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An event unlike any to ever to take place in Texas County is occurring through Sunday, May 20, on Mark Twain National Forest land in the northwest part of the county.

The “Midwest Vanlife Gathering” is expected to include as many as 100 vehicles and more than 500 participants. The recreational event is being organized by John and Jayme Serbell of Gnomad Homes, and will basically be a campout for all kinds of travelers who have converted some type of vehicle (van, bus, RV, etc.) into a tiny home and live a nomadic life. 

The event is part of a Vanlife Diaries national tour. It will be family-oriented and participants will set up on an approximately 5-acre field at the Slabtown Recreation Area on the Big Piney River off of Highway AF, northwest of Licking.

Planned activities include music after hours, campfires (weather permitting), yoga workshops for every level of difficulty, stand-up paddle boarding, a swap meet, a photo booth area, kid-friendly activities and more. There will be live music open-mic style for anyone to jam and perform and a community potluck on Saturday night. 

 “If anyone is interested in attending, all are welcome,” Jayme Serbell said. “Even if you just want an excuse to get outside, we’d love to see you there!”

All attendees (including visitors) are required to pay an entry fee. A large raffle will take place, with 100-percent of its proceeds and 10-percent of ticket sales benefiting Adventure Works of DeKalb County, a nonprofit organization in Illinois that works with troubled teens and families by utilizing wilderness therapy.

Jayme Serbel is a native of Affton. She said attendees can expect a laid-back atmosphere.

“The vehicles will not be parked like in a parking lot,” she said. “At these events, people normally spread out a little bit.”

“Midwest Van Gathering” organizers John and Jayme Serbell sit inside their custom-equiiped van.

For more information about the gathering, log onto For more information about the Serbells and van life, log onto

Entry fee information is available at

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