FERGUS, Ont. - The Fergus Truck Show may be a victim of its own success, and is seeking a new location now that two owners of land that's located adjacent to the main show site have decided to withdra...
FERGUS, Ont. –The Fergus Truck Show may be a victim of its own success, and is seeking a new location now that two owners of land that’s located adjacent to the main show site have decided to withdraw from participating in the event.
The crux of the problem is over land use on the two 22-and 40-acre parcels of land, which is used for camping, parking, a show’n’shine and tractor pulls -an area located adjacent to the 60-acre main site which is owned by the Centre Wellington Township. The chief operating officer for the Fergus Truck Show is being extremely discreet about the ongoing negotiations with the landowners, as well as the show’s future plans.
Wayne Billings is hopeful that relations can be nurtured, and potentially restored, with one or even both of the farmers that own the land. But in the event that scenario doesn’t come to pass, the show organizers are seeking other site possibilities that must consist of about 125 acres in either: the Fergus area; within the greater Centre Wellington Township; or in another southern Ontario location.
“As of right now, we’re still looking for a site,” says Billings. “I can’t reveal where they are right now, at this time, but I have three, well actually four sites locally, that I have talked to (landowners) about the event. As far as I’m concerned, there will be a show. It’s just a matter of where it’s going to be.”
If the latter scenario came to pass, and the show is forced to relocate away from Fergus, Billings admits that the show’s board of directors has discussed the potential for a name change. But it’s an idea he’s not keen on.
“That has definitely been brought up, as to whether we would change the name or not. We will definitely maintain ‘Fergus Truck Show’ somehow in the name, if (the site) was changed,” he says.
In the last few years the Fergus Truck Show has expanded its venue to keep it viable, creating more family- friendly events such as an amusement park, as well as other attractions for a diverse audience. The show offers top-notch musical entertainment, this year featuring Canadian rockers April Wine, Kim Mitchell, and David Wilcox and country star Aaron Pritchett. Truck enthusiasts also turned out in droves to view a demolition derby, and a massive show’n’shine, which attracted as many as 429 trucks according to organizers.
The show has routinely been recognized as one of the top festivals in the province. However, it may now be suffering fallout from its success and growth, earning the ire of the landowners the show depended on to provide space.
“I guess that’s possible,” Billings responds. However, he adds the show had to diversify and become more than just a truck show to ensure continued success. “We’d outgrown the facility so we were able to rent the land. So, given that sense – getting bigger has likely been an issue right now. Also, staying as just a truck show -given the economy right now -I think that we would be out of business.”
Many charitable groups have benefited from the show. The “Family Fun Zone” amusement park, which partnered with NAL Insurance’s ‘Trucking for Wishes’ program raised more than $30,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation. Twenty- five local service groups have also profited from the event, thanks to members who volunteer at the show.
“Many of these (service clubs) have indicated that without the monies that they receive for working at the show, many of their events or causes would be significantly deprived,” says Billings.
The Fergus Truck Show was founded 23 years ago by Sherry Clarke, who came up with the idea of holding a truck show to help raise money for the town’s recreational facilities.
The profits of that first show were earmarked for a new hall at the community centre, which is now known as the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex.
“After the first year, the trucking industry, (and) the people that were there, asked for it to continue, and it just slowly grew,” says Billings. •