CLIFFORD, Ont. – The small town of Clifford, Ont. played host to one of the largest collections of antique trucks in the country June 29-30.
The show, put on by the Great Lakes Truck Club, saw an eclectic assortment of 170 classic trucks put on display for the enjoyment of a massive crowd that easily doubled last year’s turnout, according to club president Chris Hall.
This year’s show featured the “Bulldog Corral,” a tribute to classic Mack trucks dating back to the 1920s. The popularity of this special section exceeded expectations and the area set aside to house the bulldogs wasn’t nearly large enough.
“We ran out of room,” Hall said. “That turned out to be almost a show in itself.”
The Mack collection was supported by Mack Trucks Canada, which contributed prizes and sent a brand new Mack Pinnacle Rawhide Edition to contrast the Mack trucks of yesteryear. But corporate sponsorship is something organizers of the show are cautious to keep to a minimum, as they want the focus of their grassroots show to remain on the trucks themselves.
“Our sponsors are mostly members and trucking companies,” Hall said. “It’s not a money making process. As long as we have a bit of money left to cover our printing costs, that’s all we need.”
The Great Lakes Truck Show is truly all about the trucks. There are no awards. No judging. No trophies. No Best in Show. No egos to placate. It costs just $20 to enter a truck and only $5 to visit.
The laid back atmosphere is based on the antique truck show formula that has proven popular south of the border. It also encourages owners to bring trucks that are a long way from being “show ready” but are interesting to observe in their original form.
Some trucks were displayed complete with cracked windows and cobwebs intact, and those trucks were among the biggest attention-getters.
Saturday evening, organizers hosted a pork chop dinner, feeding 200 people. Some friendly truck trivia was held and then it was a subdued, but social evening by the campsites. Hall said the club has resisted hiring a live band, because most members prefer to visit with each other and talk trucks.
“All everybody wants to do (after dinner) is go back to their friends or their group and sit around and move from one truck to the next and talk,” Hall said. “A lot of guys don’t get to see each other because they’re on the road.”
Last year, a few participants were, as Hall said, “looking for an engine-revving, jake-braking good time,” but the club moved swiftly to put an end to it.
The Great Lakes Truck Club has about 265 members who share a passion for antique trucks. Hall said he’s noticing increased interest among the younger crowd, thanks largely to the Internet and ready access to old truck photos.
“You wouldn’t believe all the younger kids that are now into these older trucks,” Hall said.
He was heartened to see kids taking an interest in the trucks, looking beyond the front grille and asking questions of the owners.
“They were actually looking at the frames, in the cabs, they had a genuine interest in the individual trucks and the drivers were there for them to talk to,” Hall noted.
The truck show will return to Rotary Park in Clifford next year. For more information on the club, visit www.greatlakestruckclub.com.