The show known as “Pride In Your Ride” in Brookeville, Ohio, officially came to an end on June 10th, 2017 for good when it was apparent that the venue was simply not able to accommodate the overwhelming growth that the show has produced, year after year. Adding to the growth and the many ideas the show’s committee had, this old venue was just not a good fit anymore. They wanted bigger and better for the people, the drivers and the communities that support this show each year.
Although the 2018 show was a full year away, time was of the essence if a big move was imminent. At the first committee meeting after the show, the choice was quick and unanimous – “Yes, we need more room!” Running out of space is a good problem, but basically starting from scratch is no easy task with under a year to do so. After scouting many locations, hundreds of phone calls and meetings with property owners, deliberations of the offers took place and a new show venue was established.
Exactly 30 miles to the east, along I-70, lies the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio – a beautiful facility only a hundred yards from the exit ramps of one of the busiest interstates in the country. With hundreds of acres of asphalt, for hundreds of trucks and trailers, camping spots with hook-ups, buildings for vendors, a concrete stage for bands that could also accommodate their rigging, and a food alley for the food trucks that keep the contestants, spectators and musicians hydrated and fed for the entire show schedule, this new location had it all.
With the tallest hurdle jumped, the committee thought a new location also needed a new name. Something with a fresh, up-to-date look, was needed to attract people, sponsors and participants, and also show that the show committee was dedicated and capable of handling a professionally-organized and operated big event. And with that, the new name of “The Buckeye Invitational Truck Show” was born.
News of a new location and new name was pitched to the show’s previous sponsors and it was a hit with all. Each sponsor was excited and understanding of the tasks that lie ahead. Headlining sponsors, Big Buckeye Iron and The Chrome Shop Mafia, stepped up their partnership to show their support. Other sponsors who continued their support include Tough Tested, Cobra Electronics and Shuman Specialized Transport. Lincoln Chrome continued their support by making the custom one-off trophies for the winners. The newest sponsors, OOIDA and Truck It Smart, joined this year to be a part of the show, and both of these great new sponsors spoke of a multi-year partnership to come.
With everything coming together, the original focus remained top priority: a fun, laid-back truck show centered around the drivers, with the trucks being the glue that binds their brotherhood. A time for drivers and owners to tell stories, look at the trucks, eat, play games and listen to live music. Seeing little children marvel at the big trucks is always a big hit for the drivers, too.
The time finally arrived… the stage was set, the band was ready, the vendors were in place, the food truck ovens were hot and ready for orders, and then the gates opened for the long-awaited start of the inaugural (well, sort of) 2018 Buckeye Invitational Truck Show.
The first of the rigs began rolling through, stopping at the registration tent for a window number and gift bag of appreciation. Then, they were pointed in the direction of crew members that were parking bobtails in one area, flanked by tractor-trailers in other lanes, in a very unique set-up which created a nice flow for those who wanted to cruise the grounds on foot or in a golf cart, and not be in anyone’s way. It didn’t take long to realize that the move to the Clark County Fairgrounds was the right call.
The concert stage was jumping, as live bands pumped out great tunes throughout the ground’s sound system, for all to enjoy, without having to stand directly in front of the stage. Friday afternoon started with Taylor Barker taking the stage, followed by Terrance “Jake Brake Junky” Mathis.
As the afternoon continued, a home run derby was planned for any drivers who wanted to test their batting skills against the hefty pitching arm of a 12-year-old boy, whiffle ball style. Big rig truckers swinging a plastic bat for the fences provided plenty of entertainment for those watching and participating. Who were the winners? The friends and family that got tons of laughs witnessing all the greatness!
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans, as the heat and humidity brought thunderstorms, canceling the rest of the afternoon’s bands. The Friday night light show was also canceled, as the rain continued to pour.
Saturday came with clear skies and an abundance of sun, as more trucks joined the party. The parking lot was full as spectators filed onto the grounds. Long Haul Paul, Ghost Town and Brad James rocked the stage during the day for the fans. Towards the late afternoon, Truk opened for headliner Bill Weaver right before the awards ceremonies. With this show being more about the brotherhood and relaxing than awards, the trophies were limited to just two. Best of Show went to Steve Randall and his lime green Kenworth W900L, and the Kid’s Choice award went to Johnny & Clarence Payton and their pink Pete 379 with a white stripe.
Once the ceremony concluded, a drivers meeting was held for those participating in the “Trucker’s Final Mile” road convoy. The convoy, led by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, along with the intersections closed by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, winded through the lush countryside and back roads, then on to some state highways, before hitting Interstate 70 again and returning back to the fairgrounds. The convoy raised $4,200 for the charity – an organization that assists families of tragically-lost or seriously-hurt drivers return home or get to loved one’s sides in their time of extreme need.
As Mother Nature soiled plans the previous night, she was making the same threats again on Saturday, as the clouds turned dark and the leaves began turning over. Weather reports of strong winds, torrential rain and golf-ball-sized hail had everyone on their phones, watching the radar, and then clearing out in a hurry. The rain and wind hit as predicted, bringing the first Buckeye Invitational Truck Show to an abrupt end.
But, despite the weather, the show was a success, and things are already looking good for next year! Like other things in life, what we set out to do, there’s always room for improvement. The committee already sees where they can make changes and tweak aspects that will make the show even better.
Although the number of trucks entered was not quite fifty, the amazing quality was impressive. Work trucks, all-out show trucks, private collection classics to every day farm trucks were on hand and provided a fantastic array to adorn. I’m excited to see where this little show can go from here. All the pieces are there, and it should just get better and better in the years to come.