FINALLY – a truck-related get together to attend! This event was not a “show” per se, but it was held instead of a show, because this was all that the promoters were allowed to do at the time. With so many shows, both local and regional, having been canceled, this year has been rather depressing. By not getting out and seeing trucks, shaking hands, visiting with friends, and meeting new people, along with checking out all the new trucks that were built or worked on over the winter months, cabin fever was beginning to set in.
The Ohio Vintage Truck Jamboree, usually held on the third weekend of June, typically has over 300 vehicles in attendance. Unfortunately, like so many others, it was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Historical Truck Society did not cancel the show, but the Ashland Board of Health did. Once they were notified that they were not going to have insurance for the event due to the state health restrictions, the planning committee for the show started shifting gears, pondering what else they might be able to do that weekend. The really sad part is that this show benefits the local food bank from cash and/or food collected that people donate at the gate for admission to the show.
Along with the show, the group typically has a convoy on Saturday night that drives to some interesting points of Ashland County, including a local Amish restaurant with some very generous amounts of great tasting food. So, with that being said, it was a great jumping off point. Numerous calls were made to a few members of various truck clubs, checking for interest, and discussions were had with the national ATHS reps. It was determined that a convoy could work. The convoy was similar to car cruises that were taking place in the area, it would not need liability insurance, and it would not defy any of the health restrictions the State of Ohio’s governor or the health department had imposed. More importantly, the local food bank could benefit, and that’s what it’s all about – helping others!
A poster was made, along with arrangements with the Ashland Food Bank and the Ashland Fairgrounds. Dennis Campbell developed a route and number stops to be sure that the group could get back together and not lose participants. Convoy stops were developed through the help of Bubba Davis of Kuhnle Bros. Trucking and Jerry Aber of Aber Crane and Towing. Love’s Truck Stop was notified and, at the last minute, a poker run was also developed that Brandon Carpenter, owner of Haul’er Back Trucking, ran during the event. So, the Vintage Truck Covid Convoy, a 3-hour trip covering 50 miles, became a reality.
I heard about this convoy, being held on Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day), from some people involved in the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the ATHS and was really looking forward to it. I was being as optimistic as possible about this event, hoping it would be a great success. And the members did not disappoint. I went to the event with a group of trucks that had their own little convoy, coming from North Royalton, OH.
The Vintage Truck Covid Convoy staged and gathered outside the Ashland County Fairgrounds, in the parking lot, where the regular truck show is held every June. By the time I got to the fairgrounds, a decent amount of trucks had already arrived, and more were still showing up. As the trucks were staged, people gathered to talk to each other, take some pictures, and check out what had arrived, so far. Donuts and coffee were available for purchase, and that money was donated to the food bank.
There were three trucks, in the front of the staged trucks involved with the convoy, that had huge green masks on them – Bill Peters’ single-axle W900A, Paul Laity’s Ford C-750 single-axle wrecker, and Dennis Campbell’s Autocar AT-64 tractor with sleeper. As the clock quickly approached 9:00 AM, all those who came to take part in the convoy were gathered up in front behind Dennis Campbell’s Autocar. Dennis described what was going to take place on the convoy, including where they were all going, the exact routes they would be traveling between the stops, how long they would be at each of those stops, and the method of letting those involved know when they would be departing. With all that said, everyone got in their trucks and prepared to get rolling.
The trucks left the fairgrounds and headed to the first stop – the Mansfield Reformatory – a historic prison located in Mansfield, OH that was built between 1886 and 1910 and stayed operational until 1990. This facility was used in a number of films, TV shows and music videos, with the most well-known being the film “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Around twenty minutes or more was spent at each location, which was enough time for everyone to get out, look around, and maybe take pictures. They also drew a card from Brandon Carpenter for the Poker Run at each stop.
The next stop was Kuhnle Bros. Trucking in Mansfield, OH for a look at their facility. With temps in the mid-80s and high humidity, it was nice to get a bottle of cold water and relax. A group picture of everyone who participated in the event was also taken while there. After everyone who was participating in the Poker Run got their cards from Brandon, Dennis Campbell blew his horn, letting everyone know that the convoy was moving on.
Leaving Kuhnle Bros. and heading to the next stop, Love’s Truck Stop in Bellville at the 165 mm on Interstate 71, once there we could get some food and refreshments from either Taco John’s or Subway. This Love’s Truck Stop has an American Flag up on a hill behind the travel plaza, which is pretty cool. The next (and final) stop was at Aber’s Crane and Towing in Ashland, OH. A newly built facility with several service bays, upon arriving at this location, they had a crane mounted on a truck chassis with an American Flag waving high above the gate into the yard. Very cool.
Being held on Father’s Day, it was great to see fathers with their daughters and sons, sharing in this event together. The convoy wrapped up around 3:30 so the fathers could go to other events and celebrations with their families that couldn’t attend. It was great seeing people, getting out, and helping others who can’t help themselves. It is one nice way of giving back to the community during this crazy worldwide pandemic we are all living in right now. There were plenty of ways to donate to the food bank, be it the donuts that were sold at the beginning of the event, which raised $266, there was a jar that was available to put in donations, which collected $1,284, or one could donate canned goods. In total, the food collected weighed in at 730 pounds, and the grand total of cash donations was $1,550.
It was also really cool to see some of the vintage trucks that people had been working on over the winter, such as Steve Crook’s tan and brown 1973 Kenworth W900A (that matches his 1982 Kenworth K100 double bunk), Jared Bodak’s Kenworth W900A, and Erich Reiselt’s 1972 International 4374, which he and his two sons rehabbed.
I would like to thank Bill Peters for giving me a lot of information about this event and how it all came to be, and Joey Ols for providing some cool vehicles for the convoy – he even let me drive his cool 1968 black Chevrolet El Camino in the event. He insisted that I take the vehicle, and after a last-minute phone call from my buddy Harvey Stephen, pleading for me to take it, I agreed. Thank you, Joey! It was a lot of fun to drive and step back in time, back to when the world seemed a lot simpler.
Look for more information on Facebook under Ohio Vintage Truck Reunion. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for healthier days, soon! Next year’s show is scheduled to be held on June 19-20, 2021. If everything goes as planned, I will be there, and I hope to see you there, too. Take care!