The 30th annual Brooks Truck Show was held once again at Powerland Heritage Park in Brooks, OR on August 25-26, 2023. And if 30 years wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, we were also celebrating with our friends Roger and Annette Ghidelli, who came to the show from California to bring our golf cart and help us in the booth – and to celebrate Annette’s 55th birthday! It was a great weekend of food, fun, friends, and trucks that we won’t soon forget.
Each year at the Brooks show a different brand of truck is highlighted and featured, and this year, in honor of their 100th anniversary, Kenworth was the featured truck manufacturer. Not only were all the Kenworth trucks parked in a special display area, but Kenworth themselves brought out their special 100th anniversary show trailer, filled with all kinds of neat Kenworth history, along with some of the limited edition 100th anniversary W900L trucks (and even a few really cool W990s), and parked them in the special display area, as well. It was pretty cool.
We flew into Portland on Thursday morning and, after having breakfast and doing some shopping, we headed to our AirBNB rental house in Salem, just south of where the show was being held in Brooks. Our friends Roger and Annette Ghidelli, who usually drive the yellow and green “Godfather” 1962 Peterbilt show truck owned by Melvin Maggini (Annette’s dad) and pull our 53’ TFK show trailer to events, were on their way to Oregon in a pickup truck, pulling our smaller 12’ cargo trailer, filled with our golf cart and everything we needed for our booth at the show. They were due to arrive at about 3:00 PM, so we had to hurry and decorate the entire house for Annette’s birthday, which was officially Sunday (August 27), even though we all decided to celebrate the entire time.
By the end of the day on Thursday, our entire crew had arrived. In addition to the birthday girl and her hubby, our digital content manager and live show host John “JT” Testa was there, along with our son Parker and his girlfriend Alyssa (they drove from Washington to help us out at the show). That night we enjoyed some great barbequed steaks for dinner and then hit the hay early. We had a full weekend ahead of us and didn’t want to start off tired. That night while we slept (or tried to sleep), a big storm rolled through that brought some rain and a bunch of thunder and lightning. Honestly, I slept through it all, but no one else in the house did!
Heading to the show grounds to get set up on late Friday morning, we were surprised at how many trucks were already there. We were also greeted by Darryl McFarlane – an interesting 84-year-old fan and reader of 10-4 from Oregon that came to help us in the booth and hang out. Darryl came to the show both Friday and Saturday and proved to be very helpful. We would like to thank him for coming. After getting everything set up, we strolled around the grounds to check out the trucks, take some pictures, and talk to old friends we hadn’t seen in a while. As the day came to a close, we headed to dinner with the folks from Schott Parts and Accessories, Sal from Dynaflex, Ray from Valley Chrome, and a few others. It was a nice time with good folks and great food.
After dinner we headed back to the show grounds for a concert and the light show. This show has never had a concert, so this was a first – and it was a big hit. Dale Watson and his Lone Stars took the stage at 7:00 PM and played well into the night. At dusk, which was around 9:00 PM, the trucks turned on their lights for a spectacular display of brightness and creativity. This was one of the best light shows we have ever seen, as almost every truck on the lot participated – and there were a lot of trucks.
Saturday morning came fast, as we got to the show early to get our booth up and running. There was a bit of humidity and a little smoke from some nearby fires, but for the most part, the weather was warm and comfortable. A handful of vendors set up booths at the show, including our friends and neighbors, Schott Parts and Accessories, Valley Chrome, Dynaflex, and a few others. Walking around the show, the number of trucks was staggering. Last year the event set a record with 360 trucks, and this year they blew that number out of the water with nearly 450 trucks!
The show is divided into a few different areas. In one area, amidst the grass and trees, are the antique trucks, and let me tell you, there was some of the coolest old iron you will ever see out there – especially old log trucks. A few standouts in that area (and past cover truckers) would be Harm Speerstra, who brought out two sharp Peterbilt cabovers, and Larry Lemmons, with his fleet of two-tone green classics. Then there is the grassy area with all the featured trucks that year (mentioned previously). In this case, it was Kenworth trucks, so there was an entire field filled with KWs of all types and ages. This is where Eric Griffith and two of his fellow drivers parked their Freres Lumber company trucks, which we decided to shoot for our October cover last month.
The last and now largest area is where the “working trucks” park, but there are some old ones out there, too. I say “out there” because this area is a relatively new space for parking trucks at this event, and it is located “across the tracks” (literally) out in a freshly mowed field. This is where most of the cool kids want to hang out, including guys like Gus Hulstein, Trevor Hardwick, Greg Zehner, and Troy Charboneau, who all had beautiful trucks and/or fleets out there. George Van Dyke, Gary Amoth Trucking, RAM Trucking, and JK Pickle Trucking all had impressive lineups of trucks parked in that area, as well.
Our booth was situated just across from the Kenworth parking area, and we had a few cool cats around us, too. Doug Veerkamp and his crew brought out a few antique trucks, along with their stellar 1966-ish blue Peterbilt service truck, which graced our August 2023 cover, and was parked right next to us. On the other side, two trucks down, was our friend and past cover trucker Norm Butler and his cool KW combo, which appeared on our May 2021 cover. Across the aisle from Norm was our friend and longtime contributor Bryan Welsh and his yellow Farwest Steel company ride everyone knows and loves. And right behind us was Dale Callen’s red, black, and white restored 1955 KW that was on our cover way back in September 2003. Seriously, we were surrounded by greatness!
Throughout the day, some of the folks at Kenworth were running around the show grounds in their restored 1923 Kenworth, hauling people around on the truck’s small flatbed. That was really something to see! At around 2:00 PM, several items were raffled off in the Schott tent next to ours, with the proceeds going to a local charity. Our very own Miss Shannon and birthday girl Annette Ghidelli bought tons of raffle tickets and dropped them in the boxes in front of the items they hoped to win. After the prize winners were announced and the items were given to their new owners – many of which went to Annette but none of them went to Shannon – the awards were handed out at 3:00 PM. This is not an officially judged event, but our friends at Schott Parts and Accessories do give out some trophies to a few lucky truckers.
Once the last trophy is presented, you know how it goes – the mass exodus of trucks begins, and everyone starts tearing down their displays. After we got everything taken down and put back in our trailer, we headed back to our rental house for one last BBQ with our exhausted team, and then stayed up until midnight so we could wish Annette an official happy birthday (we were all so tired we barely made it to midnight). After a champagne toast, we headed to bed for some much needed rest, because we had to be in Lyons, OR the next morning for the cover shoot with Eric Griffith at the Freres main mill facility. There is no rest for the wicked!
We would like to thank everyone who came out to the show and stopped by our booth. We would also like to send special thanks to Frank Merrill for always taking such great care of us when in Brooks and treating us like family. Frank works hard to ensure this show is always a good one. Also, thanks to Roger and Annette, John Testa, Parker, Alyssa, and Darryl for helping out and making this weekend really special. Next year’s dates are scheduled for August 23-24, 2024. We hope to see you there and once again celebrate this industry – both past and present – that we all love. n
EDITOR’S NOTE: Just as this magazine was going to press, we got the shocking and sad news that Frank Merrill, longtime promoter and the “guy in charge” at the Brooks Truck Show, had suddenly passed away. Stay tuned to 10-4 Magazine for more details as they become available. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to Frank’s family and friends. May he rest in peace.