If you’re a fan of chromed covered, tricked out show trucks, Louisville was definitely the place to be last week for MATS. The show attracts 70,000 attendees and 1,000+ exhibitors from throughout the United States and abroad. Since 1972, the Young family has hosted the most diversified group of trucking professionals and manufacturers at a show that has grown through the past four decades to be the largest annual heavy-duty trucking event in the world, also know as, Mid-America Trucking Show.
One million square feet of exhibit space at the Kentucky Exposition Center was packed with more than 70,000 truck and heavy-duty commercial vehicle owners and operators. That’s a far cry from the first show, which occupied only a small portion of the West Wing building in the vast Expo Center. One thing that hasn’t changed is the Young family’s insistence on a wide variety of services, products and entertainment to offer guests in attendance. This year, as always, they did not disappoint.
The free Friday night concert at Freedom Hall is always great, but this year, the trucking community’s own favorite trucker/country music singer, Tony Justice, lit up the arena with a fantastic performance. Justice set the crowd on fire with songs from his upcoming “Stars and Stripes and White Lines,” CD set to drop Memorial Day 2017. Tony’s down-to-earth, “real trucker” vibe packed the hall with adoring fans who have been asking to see him on the big stage since his breakout hit, “Apple Pie Moonshine” came out in 2014.
The crowd was more than ready to rock when International Country music stars, Thompson Square took the stage for the main event. The band’s performance made it quite evident why they’ve been named “Vocal Duo of the Year” by the American Country Music awards not one, but twice. Both Tony Justice and Thompson Square knocked it out of the park for their trucking fans.
ToughTested was excited to sponsore another up-and-coming country music performer, Bill Weaver, for several live shows throughout the weekend at the Red Eye Radio booth. Bill’s original music reflects his years of experience as a truck driver, the sound is reminiscent of old-time country, with a soulful voice. George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash-style guitar licks and lyrics straight out of life on the road make Bill an honored favorite in the trucking community.
Red Eye Radio also hosted the legendary Lee Greenwood who performed at the booth and VIP reception RER puts on every year for exhibitors. Mr. Greenwood’s live performance of “Proud to be an American,” left few dry eyes in the room, and everyone could be heard singing along at the most emotional moments.
Of course, this was a truck show, and there were plenty of incredibly built trucks for envious eyes. The 27th annual PKY Championship hosted some of the most gorgeous show trucks in the business, and the Papa John’s parking lot hosted the personal trucks hard-working men and women brought in on their way to or from load destinations all over the country. These proud folks were treated to a show in the lot Saturday night that featured Paul Marhoefer, Bill Weaver and Tony Justice wrapping up a superb show for 2017.
We appreciate all who attended, and especially thank the folks who stopped by the ToughTested booth, declaring, “I’m ToughTested!” for a limited edition ball cap down in the West Wing where it all began so many years ago. For those of you who were unable to attend, catch all the video and pictures from the show on ToughTested’s Facebook page, and start making plans for MATS 2018!