WALCOTT, IA – For 38 years the World’s Largest Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa has been putting on a Truckers Jamboree. For more years than she cares to count, Heather DeBaillie has been organizing this show. During July 13-15, there were 157 exhibits, 72 rigs in the Super Truck Show and Shine, and close to 200 antiques — all brought by meticulous drivers from Florida to Canada.
Walk around and you’ll quickly pick up on the love these people have for their industry. Look a little closer and you’ll see the care they also have for others displayed anywhere from messages on their trucks to full-wrap tribute vehicles.
Participating in these events isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. Drivers watch other trucks, noting what would look good on their truck, pricing the bling, buying it, installing it, and then keeping it clean year round. Many of these trucks are working trucks that run through salt and grime like everyone else. Rodger Nelson from Saskatoon, a seven-year returning contestant, says the commitment to a showy truck requires at least an hour inside cleaning every week, plus multiple exterior washes. Any paint chips or sand blasting need fixing immediately and frame rails get painted every year.
A spectacular Kenworth with a stainless steel sleeper like the one Jade Transport built takes planning to put together. Dennis Durand, a 22-year driver for Jade, takes pride in being the driver for that rig. He loves keeping the truck clean and answering any questions from the public about the truck. Ideally he likes to get to six shows a year, depending on logistics and where his boss wants him to be seen. Other than the green paint on the cab and hood, the sleeper and tanker trailer appeared like an expensive mirror.
Truck after truck will take your breath away for different reasons, but of special note are the tribute trucks.
“End of Watch”, a tribute to fallen law enforcement was simply stunning. Stephanie Robak and her husband Jake build a new show truck every year. She said that this year she wanted to design the truck since she spends so much time polishing and helping out. She is a police officer and 911 dispatcher so the choice was easy, and close to her heart. What was heart-wrenching was the alphabetical list of names on the truck, of all the officers lost in the last 20 years. On the passenger side of the sleeper was an officer’s shield from Jake’s hometown, and the funeral procession. Other than the vehicle wrap, all of the work was done by them and their friends. No sponsors, just four months of working nights and weekends along with their regular jobs to get the truck done. Talk about spectacular dedication! “End of Watch” is a working car carrier so the public gets treated to this masterpiece everyday. At the award ceremony they earned 1st place Working Truck Specialty, 1st place Lights at Night Specialty, 2nd place Bobtail Polish and Detail and 2nd place Bobtail Custom Vinyl Graphics.
Robert Errthum and his wife Denise have lost several close family members to cancer. After her grandpa died from cancer they were looking to put a sticker on the truck in his honour but then they felt that a whole truck wrap dedicated to and honouring these family members would be fitting. Fourteen names adorn their truck “Miles of Memories” in areas that have special meaning. Robert says: “This is their truck. I just drive it and maintain it.” The emotion in his voice and eyes speaks of the closeness of this cause to him.
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