Taken in by big rigs

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By Martin Steele

Truck drivers, spouses of truck drivers, kids of truck drivers and a mass of people that just like huge, powerful and sometimes really flashy mechanical beasts probably felt like the were in some kind of fantasy land on Saturday at the 75 Chrome Shop’s Annual Truck Show in Wildwood.

It was the sort of show where shining metal could likely have been tallied in acres rather than square feet or inches and open truck cabs displayed custom interiors worthy of some luxury automobiles.

The somewhat dazzling display of more than 90 semi trucks or truck and trailer rigs packed into the back lot of the Chrome Shop had event visitors spellbound. Whether they were polished-up late model trucks right off the road or customized rigs that would put some of the snazziest show cars to shame, there was something for just about everyone’s taste. They brought everything from tow trucks and automobile transports to cattle haulers and boom trucks.

It’s a special event that brings some added excitement each year to the area of the State Road 44 and Interstate 75 interchange where the Chrome Shop is located. This was the 19th year that the Farkus family, shop owners and operators, has welcomed the show to their business.

Chrome Shop spokesperson Kerri Farkus said they brought in more than 30 vendors for the event, businesses offering products ranging from fuel additives to custom accessories. Shop managers were anticipating having 3,500-4,000 show visitors on Saturday alone.

The show included food vendors on site and a DJ to enliven the show atmosphere. While some visitors took in the show out on the lot, others were among droves inside exploring the vast array of items in the Chrome Shop’s retail displays.

The American Truck Show Circuit organizes the event. Circuit representative Ivana Mlinarevic said the goal is to expose more people to the trucking industry and to the truckers’ dedication and pride.

It’s like the event is two shows in one, she said. First there’s the “wash and show” category that’s sort of a low-pressure event where working truckers clean and polish their rigs for the show. That category features many product prizes.

On the other hand, there’s the “pretty intense” circuit show, Mlinarevic said. About seventeen of the entries at this show were in that category. Winners in the show circuit collect points somewhat like NASCAR drivers and the top four winners for the year get to go to a big national automotive show in Las Vegas.

Show visitors also got to pick their own winners by voting for a People’s Choice Award.

The show brought in numerous visitors with ties to the industry. Retirees who claimed more than 35 years of over-the-road experience could be found reminiscing about the highs and lows of the driving experience and sometimes talking about the fine points of particular trucks and engines.

One thing was very apparent – the array of trucks put many smiles on many faces. And, while the show might not have won out over some of the area theme parks for the number of cell phone snapshots taken on Saturday, it was likely a contender. Some visitors weren’t content just to get a photo – they sometimes were observed making video recordings down the entire length of some trucks.