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Back to basics

The Fergus Truck Show is history, but the first ever Great Canadian Truck Show proved the show can go on


DURHAM, Ont. – Rising from the ashes of the once mighty, now defunct, Fergus Truck Show, was the first ever Great Canadian Truck Show hosted at the Full Throttle Speedway in Durham, Ont., July 21-23.

The event, organized by volunteers committed to keeping a truck show in the region, drew more than 60 trucks. One of those volunteers, Jennifer Hatch, told Trucknews.com that many friendships were formed among show volunteers and the truckers who enjoyed the Fergus Truck Show in years past. It was important to them to offer a simpler, more grassroots show, where truckers could continue to gather and share their passion for trucks and trucking.

For those who didn’t make it out to the Great Canadian Truck Show, but are familiar with Fergus, expect a laid-back, scaled-down show experience, Hatch advised.

“We had a way more relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “Sometimes you have to take it back to grassroots, and I think Full Throttle Speedway, in a lot of people’s minds, is grassroots. It’s a place to come and enjoy family and friends, no pressure. I think that’s what this show brought. There wasn’t any stress, people just had fun, nobody got out of hand – it was an absolutely great, respectful time.”

The Fergus Truck Show, once the largest in Ontario, if not Canada, became a victim of its own success. The show regularly drew more than 400 trucks, but once it got about as big as a truck show in that area could get, well meaning organizers looked to expand other aspects of the event. They brought in bigger-name bands, which in turn attracted a larger audience, including some rowdies and their shenanigans.

Many of those folks had no interest in the trucks that were on display, and the truckers had little interest in the bands. The truckers – who formed the nucleus the show was built around – turned cranky when entry fees were steadily increased to pay for those big bands. Many felt The Fergus Truck Show had become less of a truck show, and more of a music festival. Greed wasn’t driving ambitions to grow the show; monies raised were plowed into worthwhile local causes. The intentions of the organizers were laudable – the more people they could draw, the more money they could raise for local initiatives. But for truck show purists, the Fergus Truck Show had lost its way.

Organizers announced in February the Fergus Truck Show was to cease operations.

“The Board of Directors would like to sincerely thank all of our volunteers, attendees and drivers that have come through the gates for the past 30-plus years. It is with the utmost of gratitude and appreciation that we thank you for your support over these past years,” organizers posted on the show’s Facebook page in February.

But a handful of volunteers didn’t want to see the area go without a truck show, and decided to host a new one that would mark a return to the Fergus show’s grassroots origin. A site was selected about 70 kilometers to the northwest of Fergus, at the Full Throttle Speedway in Durham, Ont. The speedway provides expansive grounds for truck and RV parking and some side entertainment in the form of motorsports, including a truck pull. The pairing went over well, according to Hatch.

“We had a great turnout for the truck pulls on Friday night,” Hatch said, noting even some of the highway tractors participated. More than 2,000 spectators attended the races and truck show on the evening of Saturday, July 22, despite some unpleasant weather.

The committee will meet in the coming days to decide on the future of the Great Canadian Truck Show, but Hatch was optimistic it will return to the same venue next year.

“The grounds worked well for us,” she said. “There were lots of hiccups, obviously. When it’s your first time at the grounds, you’re not sure how it’s going to work, and Mother Nature made some wet areas we weren’t expecting. We will have a meeting of the minds and see if it worked for everybody. I do believe it will be here next year, but we have to talk to everybody and make sure they’re on-board.”

Several truck owners received awards as part of the show’n’shine, but there was one award organizers were unable give out. The President’s Award was to go to a participant who went above and beyond to promote the event. There were too many candidates to choose from, Hatch said.

“We had truckers who came in here on Tuesday to help set up for the show, volunteering, no questions asked,” she said. “We had people who worked everywhere, getting it out on social media, telling people about the show. We couldn’t choose somebody, so this year it went to all the people who made the show happen.”

Show’n’shine awards went to: Earl MacDonald & Sons Transport, Best 2017 Working Truck; Schlueters, Best Vintage Working Tractor; Earl Hardy Transport, Best Restored Tractor; Steve Constantine, Best Paint Tractor; Boyd’s, Best Mural; Premier Bulk Systems, Best Commercial Logo; and Gervais Towing, Best Heavy Recovery.

Hatch said Royal Engraving sponsored the plaques, and she thanked everyone who chipped in to make the inaugural event a success. For more on the event, visit its Facebook page here.


James Menzies

James Menzies

James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.
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