Truckers Jamboree: It’s food, fun, trucks and the search for drivers

WALCOTT, Iowa – The party has started for thousands of truckers and fans of the trucking industry.

The 2022 Walcott Truckers Jamboree – with the slogan “the best trucker party in the country” – got off to a fast, sunny start Thursday, July 14. The jamboree, hosted annually at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, I-80 Exit 284, Walcott, continues Friday and Saturday, July 15-16. The event is expected to draw in 45,000 to 50,000 people for a celebration of the industry.

Truckers Jamboree
Dave Myers, of Bettendorf, and his grandson, Ryker, 5, take a lunch break at the 2022 Walcott Truckers Jamboree at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, I-80 Exit 284, Walcott. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

In the opening hours Thursday, a massive crowd was already looking over colorful trucks on display at the Super Truck Beauty Contest, visiting with the many vendors, getting prizes and eating pork chops and other tasty food.

But for many people, the vehicles were the main attraction.

“Mostly, we like the trucks. My grandson likes getting into the trucks and looking around,” said Dave Myers of Bettendorf. Mr. Myers and his grandson, Ryker, 5, were taking a lunch break during the sunny, hot day at the jamboree. But they were looking forward to continuing their exciting day of seeing many of the trucks on display.

The trucks on displays Thursday – and continuing through Saturday’s festivities – included:

  • “Cowboy of the Road”– This 1989 Petersbilt 379 has several western, trucking and drag racing scenes painted on the cab
  • “The Goose” – This 1996 Freightliner Classic XL is dark green and boasts the phrase “In God We Truck” on the front.
  • “Roll of the Dice” – This 2020 Freightliner has a purple and brown wreath on the front.
  • “Cherry Pie” – This 1973 Kenworth W900A is owned by Kate Whiting, who also is the owner and operator of KW Pony Express in Chetek, Wisconsin. On Thursday morning, the truck attracted dozens of visitors who looked over the rig and took photos as the classic rock song “Cherry Pie” by the band Warrant played over speakers.
Truckers Jamboree
A visitor looks over the truck called “Cherry Pie” on Thursday, July 14, at the 2022 Walcott Truckers Jamboree. The jamboree runs through Saturday. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Many of the jamboree visitors also were busy looking over the many vendors at the show who were doling out prizes and displaying everything from tools, tires and wax products.

There also is a vital business goal for many of the vendors: Attract people to the trucking industry. Many displayed the same sign or banner: “Now hiring truck drivers.”

“I think the whole industry is looking for truck drivers,” said Zach Ungs, manager of recruiting for Cedar Rapids-based CRST. “We’re the same. … We’re always looking for good drivers.”

Not far from the CRST booth, Tom Skinner, a branch manager with Bennett Truck Transport, said that one of his top goals for attending the jamboree was to find more drivers for his company.

And just a few vendor tents away, Bryanna Marshner, a driver recruiter with Maersk of Channahon, Illinois, had the same goal for the weekend. “Everybody is looking for people. The driver deficit is still going on,” she added.

Several vendors were hopeful of recruiting more drivers because the jamboree is a great place to meet thousands of people.

“We’ve already seen 150 to 200 people and this has just started,” Mr. Ungs added.

Truckers Jamboree
Visitors look over truckers on display at the 2022 Walcott Truckers Jamboree on Thursday, July 14. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Known as the World’s Largest Truckstop, the Iowa 80 Truckstop sponsors the jamboree annually as its salute to the trucking industry. It was founded by the late Bill and Carolyn Moon and today is operated by the family’s second generation including son Will Moon and daughter Delia Moon Meier. 

Here are some of the jamboree events scheduled for Friday and Saturday:

  • Friday, July 15: 10 a.m. – Events begin10 a.m. – 7 p.m. –  Exhibits open;  10 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Super Trucks display, antique truck display; 10:30 a.m. – Truckers’ Best Friend Pet Contest; 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Iowa Pork Chop Cookout; 11:30 a.m.-1:30 pm.. – Trucker Olympics; 2:30 p.m. – 100th birthday party for the 1922 Walter Snow Fighter at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum; 5-6:30 p.m. – Mo’s Garage concert; 7-8:30 p.m. – Diamond Rio concert; 9 p.m. – fireworks.
  • Saturday, July 16: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Antique truck display;  11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Trucker Olympics; 1-3 p.m. –  The Brat Pack concert; 3 p.m. – Super Truck Beauty Contest Awards; 4 p.m. – Antique truck plaque presentation;  5 p.m. – show closes.

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