Tradition is king at MATS
Enjoy all that the Mid-America Trucking Show has to offer

By David Tanner, associate editor

For many attendees, the Mid-America Trucking Show is a tradition. It’s a place to meet up with old friends, visit the show displays, and attend forums and events. But you don’t have to be a regular to enjoy all that MATS has to offer, because there’s something for everyone.

This year’s event takes place March 27-29 and features more than 1 million square feet of show space at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

More than 950 exhibitors will show off their products, parts and services. Although the free registration period has expired, attendees can still register in advance for $10 and ensure smooth access at the show gates. Visit for more information and get ready to hit the ground running when the gates open at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 27.

As Land Line went to press, the big announcement was that Grammy Award-winner Gretchen Wilson was confirmed to perform at the annual free concert for show attendees. The concert, sponsored by Mobil Delvac, will take place on Friday, March 28, at Freedom Hall. Attendees can visit Mobil Delvac booth No. 18160 in the North Wing on Thursday and Friday to pick up their free tickets.

Wilson will be performing top-10 hits like “Redneck Woman,” “Here for the Party,” and “Homewrecker” as well as some newer material. Up-and-comer Chris Hennessee of Nashville will open the show.

Show trucks always draw a big crowd. Spend some time in Lot J behind the West Wing and you’ll know why. That’s where the best of the best will queue up to compete for the 25th annual Paul K. Young Truck Beauty Championship. The annual “trophy dash” is sure to produce some surprises. It always does.

Many drivers know the voices of Red Eye Radio, and MATS is a place to put a face with the names. Join Eric Harley and Gary McNamara as they welcome special guests at the Red Eye Radio booth. They’ll have country music artists Craig Morgan on Thursday and Sarah Evans on Friday as well as deck boss Edgar Hansen of the popular TV show “Deadliest Catch.” Hansen will be at the booth during all three days of the show.

Popular “Ice Road Truckers” star Alex Debogorski, who is an OOIDA life member from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, will take his place among the regulars at MATS. Attendees may also run into country music artist Phil Vassar, who will be hoping for “Just Another Day in Paradise” this year.

There’s one celebrity sighting that breaks from tradition and is sure to raise a few eyebrows. Blue Tiger, the makers of Bluetooth headsets, will be bringing in a real live tiger named Blu on Friday. See Blu and learn about the new Elite headset at booth No. 64072.

It’ll be show time in no time
Goodyear will once again present its Highway Hero award at MATS, an annual tradition. The ceremony honors trucking professionals who put themselves in harm’s way to help others.

The Women in Trucking Association will host its annual event to honor female professional drivers. Called the “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel,” it drew 200 people last year. The group always brings in a fantastic guest speaker.

Back by popular demand is the annual Health Awareness Walk sponsored by the Trucking Solutions Group and TravelCenters of America. The purpose of this 1.5-mile walk around the Expo grounds is to get people up and moving and to enable healthy habits.

Trucking Solutions Group member Linda Caffee, an OOIDA member as well, says trucker health initiatives continue to gain in popularity. Someday, she hopes to see even more programs and screenings offered at trucking events.

Trucker Buddy International will honor its outstanding ambassador with the Darrell Hicks award on Thursday during a Red Eye Radio gathering.

Another MATS tradition of late is the public listening sessions hosted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA has scheduled a session for Friday to solicit ideas and information on new entrant testing requirements for property carriers, freight forwarders and brokers. Interested parties who do not attend the session in person can log on to to view a live or archived version.

The session is one of many events that Land Line Magazine and “Land Line Now” will be covering throughout the show. Check in with Land Line’s “Pork Chop Diaries” starting on Wednesday of show week and tune in to Sirius XM 128 each evening for interviews and happenings from the show floor.

The gaggle of trucking press would not be complete without the 50 or so members of the foreign press on hand. Toby Young, president of Exhibit Management Associates, the company that founded and produces MATS, says press from at least seven different countries will be covering the show this year.

Obviously, there is a whole lot more to see and do at MATS. Perhaps a new tradition will begin. LL