Living in a neighboring state, I have visited Wisconsin more times than I can count. It is an especially beautiful state to visit in the summer. I looked forward to traveling to the AMCAN Truck Fest in Union Grove, WI on June 9-10, 2023, to experience this beautiful state once again. It was my third time attending this event, which was held at the spacious Racine County Fairgrounds in southeast Wisconsin, near Kenosha. This event was planned, organized, and put on by Nick Kimball, Julie Mors, and the marketing team at JX Enterprises. The event drew in over 5,000 people, using up all the allocated free admission tickets. The designated charity for this show was the JX Gives Back Family Foundation, focusing on an organization called Children’s Wisconsin.
The AMCAN Truck Fest is a wash and show, customer appreciation, and family-oriented event. It is a relaxed environment, where truckers come to display their pride and joy and fellowship with like-minded people. In attendance is a blend of well-maintained, sharp looking, work trucks that are on the road every day, best in class truck builds, and everything in between. A total of 85 bobtails and combos made the trip to Union Grove and participated in the Truck Fest. Racine County fairgrounds is a spacious and well-groomed facility. All the participating trucks were quickly and efficiently parked by Nick, Don Wood, and the rest of the parking crew. All trucks were parked in the lot beside the track where the truck and tractor pull occurred on Friday night.
The schedule for the two-day event was Wash N Show truck show, open Beer Garden, Kids Zone all day Friday, along with the Truck and Tractor Pull starting at 6:30 pm, and Truck Light Show beginning at dusk. The Saturday schedule was the continuation of the Wash N Show truck show, Beer Garden, Kids Zone, Awards ceremony, JX Gives Back Family Foundation Silent Auction at 4:00 pm, and then wrapping up the weekend activities with a concert by the Lunchmoney Bullies. The music that echoed over the show field for the two days of the event was provided by Jerry from Best Time DJ Services.
I arrived at the fairgrounds late Thursday afternoon and approximately 20 trucks had already registered, parked, and were being detailed, even though it was a wash and show event. The space for the 10-4 Magazine booth was in a great location on the main road coming into the show field. It was a perfect spot for taking photographs of the incoming trucks. Plus, the booth was situated right beside the lot where all the bobtails and combos were parked. The weather was nearly perfect on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. There was a lot of sunshine and warm temperatures on Thursday and Friday, albeit breezy at times both afternoons. By the time the event was winding down on Saturday afternoon, clouds started rolling in, with rain forecast for later that night.
Friday night was the busiest of the Truck Fest event. The Southeast WI Showdown Truck and Tractor Pull took place that evening, and attendees started arriving at 5:00 pm. As people were walking to the truck and tractor pulls, they passed by all the beautiful trucks participating in the Truck Fest. These attendees are a natural draw that exposes them to the trucking industry. With the booth located on the walk to the stands, several curious people stopped by. I had the opportunity to tell them about the Truck Fest, 10-4 Magazine, and a little bit about the trucking industry. Midway through the truck and tractor pulls, many local fire trucks and ambulances were called to the track. The next day I was informed that a person attending the pulls had a massive heart attack and passed away. I like to believe that many thoughts and prayers were lifted that night for those affected by this tragedy.
Although this was a wash and show event, a small number of awards were handed out Saturday afternoon in a pavilion near the show field. AMCAN’s Top Ten were presented by Julia Mors and selected by the AMCAN Truck Parts team. Following are the names and trucks of those who were chosen: Andy Smith of BRT Services (1984 Peterbilt 362); Eric Klause of A1 Moving & Storage (1972 Freightliner COE); Kevin Voight of Kevin Voight Trucking (1998 Freightliner COE); Eric Bauer of Eric Bauer Trucking (2022 Peterbilt 389); Derek Bates of James Churchill & Sons (2023 Kenworth W900); Frank Zebell of Tonyan Brothers (2007 Peterbilt 379); Chris Dreyer of Dreyer Trucking (2007 Peterbilt 379); Kiegan Nelson of Rollin’ Transport (2020 Peterbilt 389); John Yohn of Seven Hill Transport (2013 Peterbilt 389); and Steve Sontag of Always Haulin’ (2022 Peterbilt 389). All the top ten award winners were given a custom license plate frame that was designed and produced by Carl Carstens at Rockwood Products.
There were four other awards handed out at the awards ceremony. The first of those awards, presented by Julia Mors, was the People’s Choice award chosen by the spectators attending the Truck Fest. Over 600 votes were cast for the People’s Choice award. Aaron Kimball was the winner selected with his award-winning “Lookin’ Mint” 2019 Kenworth W900. He was presented with a People’s Choice sign and an Elegance on 18 Wheels spotlight video. I had the privilege of presenting the 10-4 Magazine “Best of the Best Pick” award chosen by Dan Linss and me. The truck (and person) we selected for this award was Travis Sancken and his 2019 Pete 389 from Richmond, IL. Travis was presented with a beautiful trophy made by Carl Carstens at Rockwood Products. One of the other benefits of winning this award is that Travis and his red and blue Peterbilt 389 will be featured in a future edition of 10-4 Magazine!
The next award was the Kameron Wilken Memorial Award, chosen and presented by Kameron’s mother, Shelly Wilken, in an emotional presentation. The winner of this award was someone that Kameron was friends with – Osvaldo “Ozzy” Serna Jr. and his 2005 gray Peterbilt 379. The final award was presented by Nick Kimball and chosen by the Kimball family and given to Kevin Kardoskee and his 1979 W900A Kenworth. This truck was originally bought new and owned by the Kimball family, so there was special meaning to both the truck and the award.
There were many sponsors that made this event possible and successful. Following is a list of those sponsors who contributed their valuable resources of time, money, services, and products to make this a successful event – 12 Ga. Customs; I29 Custom Truck Parts; Always Haulin; All Trux; Big Strappers; DSD Transport; Dynaflex Products; Hogebilt; Iowa Customs; JX Enterprises; JX Truck Center; Kimball Transport; Lifetime Nut Covers; RLK Services; Spare Time Fab; Time 2 Shine; Tonyan Bros; Total Appearance Truck Painting; United Pacific; and WTI. Without these key sponsors, truck shows in general, and specifically the AMCAN Truck Fest, would be impossible to put on. A very big thank you goes out to all of these sponsors for their contributions!
With 5,000 spectators attending the two-day event, it was important to provide food and drink to a thirsty and hungry crowd – especially during the warm and sunny days. There were two food trucks on-site that provided great food and drinks. As most of you know, I am a big BBQ fan, and I was not disappointed by the pulled pork and brisket sandwiches I had from Jacob’s Smokehouse. Saturday morning, 911 Tacos was selling huge breakfast burritos, and then I chose three tacos for lunch on Saturday afternoon. I could have easily eaten two more, because they were that delicious. It would not be a Wisconsin truck show without Rockwood’s Carl Carstens providing his legendary root beer floats, featuring vanilla ice cream and Stevens Point root beer. This was a tasty and satisfying treat on a warm and sunny Wisconsin summer afternoon! Thank you, Carl.
Besides the gathering of all the incredible trucks and incredible people who own them, the primary purpose of this event was raising money for the JX Gives Back Family Foundation. A total of $6,000 was raised during this event. At the awards presentation, Hannah Freeman, VP of the Foundation and JX Director of Continuous Improvement, announced a match of $6,000 for a total of $12,000 raised! This money will go to Children’s Wisconsin, for their mental health division, to be used for children of Wisconsin in need.
Attending the AMCAN Truck Fest in Wisconsin is one of the highlights of my truck show season. Nick and Julia always do a great job of putting on a fun, relaxing, and memorable show at a great location. All their planning, organizing, and hard work resulted in a successful show in every respect. According to Nick, he is planning on having an even bigger and better event in 2024 at the same location. So, if you’re in southeast Wisconsin the second weekend of June in 2024, make it a point to drop by and check out the AMCAN Truck Fest. You will see some incredible trucks, meet many wonderful people, and have the opportunity to contribute to a worthy and worthwhile Wisconsin charity.