MATS 2014: What's happenin' at Papa John's?

By Land Line staff | 3/17/2014

For many the camaraderie through the years has become an integral part of the trip to Louisville. For truckers, the Mid-America Trucking Show that takes place during the last week in March is more than a monster tradeshow. It’s a place where the trucking community sets up booths and tents at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium parking lot along what’s been dubbed “the yellow brick road.” For five days it’s a village.

Courtesy of Papa John’s International.

Major trucking charitable groups meet early in the year and work out a plan. OOIDA Life Member Lee Strebel is the designated parking lot coordinator for this year and is working as a liaison between the trucking community and MATS management. Rules are simple. No vendors are allowed on the lot and while there’s plenty of food and coffee, it’s served up by volunteers who set up “mess halls.” Donations are welcome. Exhibit Show Management has asked that no activities be scheduled at Papa John’s until the show at the Expo Center wraps up for the day. The Mid-America Trucking Show closes at 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Travel Centers of America is the official sponsor of the Papa John’s parking lot this year. As a special treat for its UltraOne trucking customers, TA/Petro will have temperature-controlled showers. They are free for UltraOne platinum members and $3 for active UltraOne cardholders. The shower trailer offers eight showers per half-hour time slots and that includes cleaning time for the porters. Drivers need to visit the TA/Petro booth no. 19156 to secure the time slot for their shower, which includes clean towels and wash cloths.

TA/Petro says women will be scheduled during specific time slots so they will have privacy. Check with TA/Petro for more information, including the hours the shower trailer will be available.

As always, plenty of events are being planned, starting off with karaoke night Wednesday on the OOIDA stage.

Trucker charities will be collecting canned goods and non-perishable items Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Groups involved include Jacob Russell Boulanger Memorial Fund (JRBM) and Truckers United for Charities. Trucker Charity and Operation Roger are participating as well.

The items will be donated to a local food bank on behalf of all truckers attending the truck show. The canned goods will be collected at Papa John’s parking lot at JRBM area as well as Truckers United for Charities area. Ask for more info at the OOIDA tour truck. 

JRBM is also planning a silent auction from Thursday through Saturday. JRBM’s Dean Owens reports that every day the group will have food available to all drivers at no cost. Owens says the food is free but donations are “gladly accepted.”

After the show over at the Expo Center wraps up on Thursday, Trucking Solutions Group will gather for their annual Health Walk. For the first time, it will be held at Papa John’s. Walkers will meet at the TA/Petro shower trailer and walk to Churchill Downs and back. TSG’s Scott Grenerth and Linda Caffee – both OOIDA members – will be in charge of this event.

Thursday night, March 27, JRBM will be having their annual spaghetti and meatball dinner in memory of Rusty “Yoda” Wade and other drivers who have recently passed away. The group is also planning its first Nitro’s Dynamite Super Trucker Miniature Truck Rodeo.

In the parking lot at Papa John’s, you’ll find Truckers United for Charities volunteers grilling up good stuff in exchange for donations, which they then pay forward to numerous charities for children. As usual, they will be cooking all three days. The group will be serving pulled pork along with burgers and brats.

On Friday evening, March 28, Don Schmidt and the JBC Group will host the second annual “drag” race. All the proceeds will go to the OOIDA Mary Johnston scholarship fund and OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops. JBC is affiliated with Truckers United for Charities.

Papa John’s will be the place to catch good performers belting out some of your favorite truck drivin’ songs.

On Thursday night, March 27, Michael Elmore will perform solo on the OOIDA stage. Elmore is a Louisville native, country rocker and you may remember him from last year.

The music on Friday night will be on the OOIDA stage and sponsored by Fike’s Truckline. Bring your lawnchairs and get ready for great entertainment, emceed by Marcia Campbell of WSM-AM’s “All Nighter” and Mark Reddig of “Land Line Now.” Marcia will bring her Truckers Talent Spotlight to the stage featuring the music of Jan McCarter, Wayne Dollar, Ron Witherspoon, Brad James, Gerald Lucas and others.

Joey Holiday will be set up on his stage for several days. OOIDA is sponsoring the main stage again this year and Saturday night’s concert will feature OOIDA Member Tony Justice, popular singer and second-generation trucker from Dandridge, Tenn.

On Saturday morning, March 29, the Truckers United for Charities folks will be up early and cooking biscuits and gravy, served up by Tim Ridley (Nemo Entertainment) and Denise Pittenger (St. Christopher Fund). All the proceeds from this will benefit the St. Christopher Fund.

Pet games are always a hit, and Operation Roger will host the fun on Saturday. Along with Trucker Charity, it is again planning an auction at the parking lot on Saturday to raise money to support the charitable missions of both groups. The auction begins promptly at 7 p.m. Something new for the parking lot activities this year is a rummage sale hosted by volunteers from Trucker Charity and Operation Roger.

Also on Saturday is another new event for this year (and one that organizers predict will be an annual deal). Trucker charitable groups will face off in the Papa John’s parking lot barbeque cook-off.  

The 15th Annual National Day of Prayer for Truckers is planned for 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, in the parking lot. It’s sponsored by TransAlive USA, Truckstop Ministries Inc, Transport for Christ, and the Mid-America Trucking Show/Exhibit Management Associates of Louisville.
Chaplain Joe Hunter, President of Truckstop Ministries, will offer the prayer. Bob Hataway, president of TransAlive USA, will serve as emcee. OOIDA Member Jan McCarter will sing the National Anthem. Tony Justice will provide special music. Special awards will be given to Dorothy Cox of The Trucker; Jerry and Jewell Lusher, ambassadors for Truckstop Ministries; and OOIDA Life Member Candy Bass of Hutto, Texas. Candy has been a driver for 40 years.

On the OOIDA stage at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, Chaplain Joe Hunter will conduct his annual non-denominational service.

Show management requests that the lot be completely vacated by sundown on Sunday, March 30.

A number of nonprofits and trucker support groups will also have booths and events at the show, both at Papa John’s and at the Expo Center. Look for folks from Trucker Charity and Operation Roger at Booth 66245 at the Expo Center, the St. Christopher Fund with TA/Petro at Booth 19156, Truckers Against Trafficking at Booth 65089, and more. The JRB Memorial Fund booth is No. 72105 where the group plans daily giveaways. You’ll find Truckers United For Charities at booth No. 40549. Kari Fisher of the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network will be at the show, too.

Free tractor-trailer parking is available courtesy of show management at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Shuttle buses to and from the Kentucky Exposition Center are also provided for anyone parking at Papa John’s, sponsored by Travel Centers of America.

According to Exhibit Management Associates Inc., the official contract it has with the University of Louisville states that attendees will have access to the Papa John’s Stadium parking lot beginning Tuesday, March 25, at 5 a.m. This excludes Lot A.

Due to the organization happening early in show week at the parking lot, it is suggested that Wednesday, March 26, is a better day for your arrival. And heads up: All trucks must enter and exit through Gate D, as it is the only gate wide enough for Class 8 trucks.

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