by René Tankersley, feature editor
A million square feet of exhibit space, more than 1,000 exhibiting companies and more than 70,000 truckers under one roof — that’s what you’ll find in Louisville this month.
The 2004 Mid-America Trucking Show at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center — at the junction of I-65 and I-264, one mile south of downtown Louisville — will be the 33rd edition of the industry’s show of shows.
Special events that have become annual attractions to the show include the 4th Annual Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championship, the Mid-America Jamboree, Trucking Technology Center, Driver Recruitment Center, the Expedited Trucking InfoCenter and informative seminars. NASCAR’s Ken Schrader will sign autographs at Booth No. 6485 in the Mid-America Driver Recruitment Center Thursday, March 25.
Each year, The Mid-America Trucking Show features live concerts from some of the top artists in the country.
In 2000, the Beach Boys, Alabama and Brooks & Dunn all performed free concerts for attendees of the Mid-America Trucking Show. In 2001, Creedence Clearwater Revisited and Alabama put on performances for the loyal members of the trucking industry. In 2002, Kenworth sponsored Alabama in concert for MATS attendees, and Kid Rock put on a performance on the last day of the show. MATS 2003 saw Alabama’s farewell tour, sponsored by Kenworth.
At press time, the concert headliner had not been announced.
Country music legend Crystal Gayle will be the special guest of Eric Harley and Joe Kelley, hosts of The Midnight Trucking Radio Network, at this year’s Mid-America Jamboree. She will be available for autographs from 1 until 4 p.m. on opening day, Thursday, March 25, at the Midnight Trucking Radio Network booth in the lobby of the show. Attendees can also register at the booth for $1,000 cash to be given away Saturday afternoon at the end of the show.
Gayle will also join Harley from 1 to 6 a.m. EST that night (Thursday night/Friday morning) for a live remote broadcast of the show from the lobby of the Executive West Hotel. The hotel is adjacent to the Kentucky Fair and Expo Center.
The Midnight Trucking Network can be heard coast-to-coast on several 50,000-watt AM stations as well as Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 141.
Catch the OOIDA ‘Spirit’ at MATS
OK, put “visit OOIDA” at the top of your MATS to-do list. Why? Because OOIDA’s truck, “The Spirit of the American Trucker,” will be one of the first things you see as you enter the show. The black Pete and walk-through trailer (Booth No. 9031) will be parked in the East Wing Parking lot right outside the registration pavilion. OOIDA board member Woody Chambers and his wife, Paula, will serve up hot coffee and tours of the truck.
Then, while you’re cruisin’ the exhibit floor, stop by the OOIDA/Land Line booth (No. 117) in the East Wing. It’s always nice when members stop by the booth and say “hi.” It’s also a good time to renew your membership, since dues are only $25 if you renew at the show. If you’re not a member yet, this is the best time to sign up, since you get the discounted rate.
René Tankersley can be reached at email@example.com
Q: How much are tickets?
A: There’s a full-page ad in this magazine on Page 139. Tear it out and use it for free admission, but you’ll still have to wait in line to get your badge made up.
You can also register online until March 11, but you will have to print out the registration confirmation page and bring it to the show to receive complimentary admission.
Q: Where and how do you get the concert tickets?
A: The concerts are free, sponsored by major industry suppliers. The sponsors hand out tickets at their booths.
Q: Where can I park my truck?
A: There are spaces for a few hundred bobtails and combination vehicles at the fairgrounds, but you’ll have to be there early to get one. There’s on-site truck parking in two big lots. Lot K can accommodate overnight truck parking, no hook-ups, for a cost of $20 per night. Lot L is for RV Parking with hook-ups available, $35 per night; call (502)-367-5000.
Additional truck parking is available at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Shuttles will be available to take attendees to and from the show. You also can park at one of the nearby truck stops and take a shuttle bus. Do not park illegally on Louisville streets. The fines are quite high.
Q: If I need a motel, can I get one at the last minute?
A: The nearest hotels, motels and even bed and breakfasts are usually booked up six months in advance. Many experienced attendees make their reservations for the next year’s show when they check out. If you don’t have reservations now, you may have to stay an hour or so away. If you plan to return in 2005, stop in at an area motel right after the show ends. A source of up-to-date hotel availability is MATS’ hotel reservation center, DestinationKY. For help making reservations (from Super 8 to higher rate rooms) call 1-800-743-3100, or go to www.destinationky.com/midam.htm.
For more information, call (502) 899-3892 or go to www.truckingshow.com.