For most people, when they celebrate 25 years, it’s a silver anniversary – but when it comes to trucking, it’s appropriate for the 25th anniversary to be chrome. And this year, the Waupun Truck-n-Show, held annually in Waupun, Wisconsin, celebrated their chrome anniversary in style! And boy was I happy to be a part of it. The inspiration for this show came 25 years ago after a few community leaders at the time attended an event called “Touch-a-Truck”. Fast forward 25 years and now there are over 300 classes at the show and hundreds of amazing trucks attend each and every year.
Ron VandeZande of Waupun, WI has been working on organizing and promoting this show from the very beginning. This entire event is run solely by volunteers (no one gets paid), and the planning for next year’s show is already in the works. Some of the volunteers are getting a bit older now and would like to step down and let some younger people take over, so if anyone is interested in helping, please contact Ron at (920) 324-9985. Whatever you may be able to do will be greatly appreciated, for sure.
About 20 years ago the show started focusing on raising money for charities. This is done by auctioning off the lead spots for the two parades held during the event – the Friday night light show parade (Ride for Pride) and then the regular parade on Saturday afternoon. Also, several years ago, they added a raffle to benefit someone in the community with a financial need due to illness. To date, the show has raised $500,000 for its various charities – wow!
If you could order perfect weather for a truck show the two days that Waupun had would be it – no rain, not too hot, a few fluffy clouds, low humidity, and a beautiful full moon – perfect! As usual, when the entire town of Waupun welcomes the truckers and their rides it is a big deal. Let the fun and the work begin. Of course, you have the required cleaning, and this year I think all the trucks there were standing pretty tall. I had a friend who had never been to the show before tell me how impressed she was at how clean all of the trucks were. And she only saw them at night in the light parade – just think what she would have thought if she had seen them in the daytime with the sun shining on them.
On Friday they auctioned off the first five spots in the night parade, with all of the proceeds going to Special Olympics. The generous winners were: 1st John Drake of Quad Graphics; 2nd Jerry and Kay Kissinger (they donated this spot to Ron Naper of RKS Cargo Lines, who’s Mack was chosen as the favorite by the Special Olympic athletes at the show); 3rd John Herdrich of Herdrich Transport; 4th Joel Dawes of Dawes Contract Carriage; and 5th Mike Sperger of Sperger Trucking, LLC. The total raised from this auction for these spots was $5,700.
Leading the parade procession was a Hull Transportation rig from Waupun pulling a flatbed with “memorial boards” chained to it. On these three large 4-foot by 8-foot boards were the names of hundreds of people that were in some way connected to the show who are no longer with us. Lit-up for all to see, there was one board specifically for committee members who had volunteered over the years and two for drivers. And, for the first time, Jason Roberts of Fond du Lac, WI stood on the flatbed with the boards and played the bagpipes for the entire parade route. If you have a name of someone you know that has been associated with the show over the years and you would like to have it added to one of the memorial boards for next year, please call Duey VandeZande at (920) 319-0345.
I would like to say thanks to Chuck Karnitz for letting me ride with him in the Quad Graphics show truck Friday night. Being in the truck right behind that flatbed with the memorial boards gave me the opportunity to hear Jason play, and there is nothing like bagpipes playing Amazing Grace, followed by miles of trucks all lit-up with air and train horns blowing – and Jake brakes are not only allowed during the parade, they are actually encouraged. During the light parade, the street lights are turned off and the trucks and trailers light the way down Main Street, which is lined with cheering people and kids motioning for the drivers to blow their horns (and then they cover their ears). I saw light sticks, hats that lit-up, bunny ears with lights – everyone joined in and contributed with their own light for a perfect night – even a nearly full moon joined the fun.
Rags down was at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, but by that time, all of the rides at the show were already glistening in the sun. I would like to thank Jerry Linander for letting me help polish a little on his Kenworth – it’s been a long time since I’ve got to shine up a truck, and I still love helping clean up a beautiful rig. I will be doing a full feature on his truck and trailer in the near future, so stay tuned for that. His truck is all about remembering – it is a very tastefully-done tribute to his brother, Monty Lynn.
The auction for the Saturday afternoon parade benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Winners of these spots were: 1st Jerry and Kay Kissinger; 2nd John Drake of Quad Graphics; 3rd John Herdrich of Herdrich Transport; 4th Jerry Kissinger; 5th Hilton Transport. And, since more people wanted to be near the front (and make a donation of their own), the next five spots were also auctioned off, which went to: 6th John Herdrich; 7th Homer’s Towing; 8th Pizzala Trucking; 9th Keith Smart; and 10th Darrell Walker. Jerry and Kay Kissinger, the parade Grand Marshalls this year, donated an additional $5,000 to the cause, while Kyle Clark, the mayor of Waupun, donated an extra $250 and the motorcycle ride that preceded the truck parade raised another $4,000 – for a grand total of just under $20,000!
During the parade on Saturday afternoon, I got to ride with my friend “Tanker Dave” (Dave Marcotte). Thank you, Dave, for letting me “hitch a ride” in a great old truck! From the passenger seat of Dave’s Peterbilt, I got pictures from a different perspective than just sitting along the side of the road. When we got stopped out in the country, I got photos of the line of trucks, from each direction, and I even had time to get a few shots of Paul Marcotte’s truck and trailer, as well as Dave’s truck and trailer, with a nice old barn in the background. And, after the parade was over, it was amazing to see how the event volunteers got everyone back to their parking spots.
In regards to the charity raffle held during the show, the prizes included two sets of steer tires (or vehicle tires for non-truck drivers), a one-night stay at the Borders Inn & Suites in Waupun, a tractor/trailer wash, $100 worth of fireworks and various other prizes. Patty Fix of Waupun, WI was the recipient of all the money raised – $2,138 – with some matching funds still coming in. Patty was diagnosed with stage four cancer in October of 2011. She went into remission in December of 2012, but in May of 2013 she was re-diagnosed with cancer again. Through it all, Patty’s positive attitude, amazing laugh, love for God, life and family (12 children and 8 grandchildren) has remained strong.
In a separate charity raffle – this one for Special Olympics – Julie Buedding, Director of Development for the Law Enforcement Torch Run, was there selling tickets for a chance to win a 2012 John Deere Gator utility vehicle and cash prizes. This drawing will be held on September 20th at the conclusion of the 10th anniversary Convoy for Special Olympics, which will originate at the Pioneer Truck Plaza in Richfield, WI and be escorted up Hwy. 41 by law enforcement to the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI. If you can’t make it to the Special Olympics Convoy in Wisconsin, try to make it to the one in your state. I’ve only been able to participate in one convoy years ago in Iowa, but it was awesome. It’s events like these that allow us to get out there and do something good and show the public what truckers are
really like. Participate and join in the fun – and no polishing is required.
It’s nice these days to have an entire community shine a positive light on truckers and their rides and all they do for so many worthwhile causes. Waupun has rolled out the red carpet for truckers for 25 years now, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Not only is it a great time, but it also raises a lot of money for some really important charities. Thank you to all the volunteers for the work you do to put on this event, and to all of the participants for coming out and opening up your wallets and checkbooks. I don’t know what the next 25 years will bring, but I do know that the 50th (golden) anniversary is going to be one heck of a party!