Another Walcott Truckers Jamboree is history, and the Iowa 80 Truckstop returns to it’s normal big and busy self.
The three-day celebration of all things truck wrapped up Saturday, July 16 and organizers are guessing as many as 45,000 folks attended.
Many were drawn by the Friday, July 15, concert by country star Sammy Kershaw presented by Mobil Delvac. Iowa 80’s Marketing Manager Heather DeBaillie said the truck stop’s sprawling parking lot for jamboree guests was almost filled for the concert, which was followed by fireworks.
But, at the end of the day it was the trucks that folks came to see, and they got their fill this year.
DaBaillie said there were 65 entries in the Super Trucks Beauty Contest. Numerous vintage vehicles filled the show grounds alongside I-80.
Delia Moon-Meier, senior vice president of Iowa 80, has seen all 37 of the Truckers Jamborees and says she’s not sure it has changed too much over the years.
“At the heart of it, it’s all about thanking truckers,” says Moon-Meier, whose family founded the truckstop in 1964. “I think we have maintained that over the years. I think everyone in Iowa 80, all the employees, work an amazing amount of hours in planning and working at the event. It’s important to know the truckstop is still open for business. Everyone is working their regular jobs and working the jamboree, and that was always true. So while it’s bigger, the spirit is the same.”
Iowa 80 serves some 5,000 customers a day, every day of the year, so Moon-Meier has considerable insight into the trucking industry.
“I think trucking is a very difficult industry,” says Moon-Meir. “It always has been. But, the really neat part is that it’s a way for a person to have their own business. It’s profitable. You work hard. You get a return. You’re in charge of your own future. The opportunities in America are different than they used to be, but they can be the same in trucking, and that’s the cool part.”
Moon-Meier handed out the numerous trophies to winners in the 27 categories of the Super Trucks Beauty Contest. She also got one of her own. Randy Schwartzenberger, executive director of Trucker Buddy International, recognized Moon-Meier and Iowa 80 for supporting the organization over the years.
Just before the trophies were awarded, the unofficial official female singer/songwriter of the American trucking industry took the stage.
Lindsay Lawler belted out a strong set to cap of the jamboree’s musical entertainment. In addition to her signature anthem to the trucking life, “I Drive,” Lawler delivered an inspiring cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Lawler is not doing a Truck Stop Tour as she has in past summers. Instead, she has been performing at ceremonies around the country for TA Petro’s Citizen Drivers Award program.
Between songs Lawler hinted about a return to truck stop touring next year with possibly a couple other bands.
Of all the things the Walcott Truckers Jamboree is, the gathering is a place for reunions. Many drivers are friends that only see one another at Walcott each July.
At least one driver, a friend to many at the show and one whose truck is a standout, will miss and be missed at next year’s jamboree.
Chris Gornik, recognizable for his full beard and even fuller smile, will take a pass on 2017’s gathering and not bring his striking black 1988 cabover Ford to the show.
Instead, for his 40th birthday, Gornik is checking an item off his bucket list by returning to his native Poland. His family came to this country years ago, and this will be Gornik’s first visit since.