March 24th, 2019

truckfest 2017These trucks get admired by a small crowd as part of last year’s Midwest TruckFest during the Five State Fair. This year’s Midwest TruckFest will see some changes to location and format, according to coordinator Colton Chase. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times


What began as a fundraiser to help the family of fallen Bee Jays batboy Kaiser Carlile in Liberal only a few years ago has grown each year and will be seeing some changes for this year. 

This year’s Midwest TruckFest will be Sunday, Sept. 2 and Monday, Sept. 3 in Kismet as part of the community’s annual Little World’s Fair. As coordinator Colton Chase tells it, it was a surprise when asked to take the event to Kismet for this year. 

“The Lion’s Club there in Kismet approached us about it and thought it’d be good to either do there after the fair as its own thing or add it to the Little World’s Fair,” Chase said. “We didn’t really think it would be a good idea to have two separate events so close to each other so we decided to try it at the Little World’s Fair this year and then if it’s successful we can do it one year there in Kismet and then the other year at the Five State Fair. We’ve been in Liberal the past three years and done really well and then this year we decided to give Kismet a try. It’ll be the same as in the past, you don’t have to have a show truck to enter, just bring what you have and the truck that gets the most money wins.” 

Event staff will be starting parking everything that Sunday afternoon and then Sunday night will be our light show and barbecue and then Monday is when the trucks will be driven in the parade and then parked again in town for the day to see how much money is raised. This year’s fundraising efforts will go to the family of Beaver, Okla. 4-year-old Grace Martinez, who is currently battling leukemia. 

“They’ve been doing a lot of traveling for doctors’ visits and that sort of thing and we want to help them this year,” Chase said. “The coolest thing is doing it for children because they love trucks  and everyone looks forward to seeing that reaction on the family’s face, so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back together and seeing look on their faces and that feel-good moment when we find out how much we raised. We haven’t had a year yet where there’s not that moment and we’re looking forward to that again. When we were planning for this year everyone was throwing out different ideas and then ultimately we settled on helping Grace and her family.”

Chase shared his excitement for this year’s TruckFest and added encouragement for truckers to bring in their rigs for the event. 

“The whole truck show family, it’s not about who’s got the fanciest truck or who’s spent the most money, it’s a matter of parking and having a good time,” Chase said. “There’s a lot of people who we don’t see but for once a year with certain truck shows, so we’re excited to get everyone together again. Truck drivers very rarely take a day off but when they find a good reason to, they’ll make the most of it to see each other and make that work. It’s about having a fun get-together and have a good time in the process. The biggest thing we hear is ‘I don’t have a show truck’ or something similar to that, but that doesn’t matter. All we ask is if it’s a truck, bring it out and show it off and we’ll be happy to see you there. Once these guys go to a show and see what all happens in that setting, they want to go to another one. I’ve taken friends of mine with me to shows who have said that and then they realized it was way different than what they expected. It’s not about showing stuff off, it’s much more laid back and it really is about that fun atmosphere of everyone getting together.”

To sign up, those interested can go to the event’s Facebook page “Midwest TruckFest” and let the coordinators know of their intentions to attend or they can call Chase at 620-655-2395 or coordinator Nathan Varnes at 620-309-1646.

“And there’s also been a few situations where we didn’t know a truck was coming until that day, which is okay because if someone shows up, we’ll find a space for them and a bucket for donations, we won’t turn anyone away,” Chase said. 

And since the inaugural Midwest TruckFest, the event has seen growth in all areas. 

“What we’ve done in years past is we’ve said something to the effect of it’s a penny per vote but then we had people bringing full bags of pennies, so we had to change that a bit since it became somewhat troublesome counting each coin,” Chase recalled with a laugh. “And you don’t have to vote for just one truck, you can vote for more and donate to more than one. This will be the fourth year of us doing this and we’ve had everything from fistfuls of change being thrown in to checks for $100 or more, it’s amazing going through it all and seeing how generous the people are. That first year we had like 33 or 35 trucks, and we’ve remained around 30 to 40 range each year. Then we have guys come in and then travel to other shows and talk about our show we had here, so that’s where that family atmosphere really comes in and then it just grows. This year already we’re expecting 40 to 50 trucks coming out including a friend of mine who’s going to try and come in from Wisconsin, he’s actually going to have a load going to California and he’ll be right on the highway so he’s planning on stopping in. A lot of the fun is also seeing just how many trucks go through town and then see who stops by.”

Overall, Chase said, he is looking forward to this year. 

“Last year we raised about $4,800 and each year since we started, we’ve raised more money as word’s spread about what we do,” Chase said. “We’re wanting to break that record for this year and we’re hoping to raise more than we have and have more trucks than we’ve had in the past. And since it’ll be more of a 2-day event, we’re hoping that will also help bring in more trucks and more people. Be sure to like our Facebook page and look for updates from us about what all will be going on and they can also talk to us through that. We’ll also have the magazine 10-4 there this year getting photos and doing a story, so that will also be great publicity. We’ll also have a polishing crew from Evans Detailing in Wisconsin here to help with some of that last-minute work, and that’s also new and should also draw in people and be great for them. We hope everyone can come out and hang out with us.”

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Shelter-Jose Lara