2017-09-21 / Front Page

Big Rigs Light Up the Night at St. Ignace

By Erich T. Doerr


Modern trucks stream by illuminated on the right, while some classic trucks are waiting their turn to join the procession during the Parade of Lights Saturday night, September 16. Spectators watch from both sides of State Street as several of the 193 trucks in the procession begin their journey toward the Mackinac Bridge. (Photograph by Ruth LaChapelle) Modern trucks stream by illuminated on the right, while some classic trucks are waiting their turn to join the procession during the Parade of Lights Saturday night, September 16. Spectators watch from both sides of State Street as several of the 193 trucks in the procession begin their journey toward the Mackinac Bridge. (Photograph by Ruth LaChapelle) This year’s St. Ignace Truck Show featured 193 trucks in the Parade of Lights across the Mackinac Bridge, and extra big rigs on display that filled an additional parking lot downtown as well as lining State Street and the arena parking lot. Spectators filled the town for the weekend to take in the colorful customized display, prompting show founder Ed Reavie of St. Ignace to quip, “That was a great mass of humanity. You’d think the Rolling Stones were in town.”

“This was one of our best” St. Ignace truck shows, said Bo Trout, National Association of Show Trucks (NAST) president. “I didn’t think we could top last year, but we did.”


At right: For the moment, all is quiet in downtown St. Ignace, as a row of semi trucks is parked on State Street Saturday morning, as part of the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show. The trucks on display here include a Mack (left) and two Peterbilts. Crowds of spectators filled the street later that day. (Photograph by Tim Ahlborn) At right: For the moment, all is quiet in downtown St. Ignace, as a row of semi trucks is parked on State Street Saturday morning, as part of the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show. The trucks on display here include a Mack (left) and two Peterbilts. Crowds of spectators filled the street later that day. (Photograph by Tim Ahlborn) In addition to the trucks registered for judging, many other semi-trucks were in town for the weekend. The show featured a tribute to the movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” and “Ice Road Truckers” television star Alex Debogorski was on hand to sign autographs.

Unusually warm weather rolled through the Straits area, bringing with it endless blue skies and hot temperatures that flirted with the 80 degree Fahrenheit mark. Thousands of spectators took advantage of it to enjoy all of the sights and sounds of the 22nd annual Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show Saturday, September 16. The show included 174 trucks on display, with several more joining in to bring the number up to 193 for the parade.


There were several local trucks in this year’s Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace. Among them, Steikar Trucking of Rudyard displayed this bright red Peterbilt. There were several local trucks in this year’s Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show in St. Ignace. Among them, Steikar Trucking of Rudyard displayed this bright red Peterbilt. The show featured multiple display areas with big rigs on display downtown on State Street, in the area surrounding Little Bear East Arena, and a new location in the Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry Dock 2 parking lot downtown. The first trucks began arriving for the show Thursday, with the last of the rigs on display Sunday. The vast majority of the trucks in the show are working trucks that were still in service right up until the days leading up to the show. Vendors promoted products geared toward both truckers, like diesel engines and vehicle cleaner, and spectators, like clothing, toys, and artwork, on sale.


At right: Curran resident Dean Bugg of Bugg Forest Products won the best of show prize for a non-working truck for his customized Peterbilt 359. He’s been attending the St. Ignace show since 2008 and has several best of show honors to his credit, including previously winning this award in 2014. At right: Curran resident Dean Bugg of Bugg Forest Products won the best of show prize for a non-working truck for his customized Peterbilt 359. He’s been attending the St. Ignace show since 2008 and has several best of show honors to his credit, including previously winning this award in 2014. The Parade of Lights began at dusk with the trucks lining up on State Street, many of them adorned with illuminated trailers, flags, and extra decorations like underglow lighting. The procession departed just after 8 p.m. and crossed the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City where it looped through the village’s downtown area. Spectators in public areas lined much of the parade route on both sides of the Straits to see all the colorful trucks as they crawled through the night. The drivers sounded their horns often in celebration as the parade drove forward; the sounds echoing throughout St. Ignace and Evergreen Shores as they did.


The trucks are getting into position before the start of the Parade of Lights Saturday, September 16. Here the Kenworth (left) of Escanaba’s St. Jacques Transportation Services takes its position at the front of the parade alongside the classic 1968 Peterbilt of Capac resident Doug Hunter. The nighttime parade included 193 trucks this year. The trucks are getting into position before the start of the Parade of Lights Saturday, September 16. Here the Kenworth (left) of Escanaba’s St. Jacques Transportation Services takes its position at the front of the parade alongside the classic 1968 Peterbilt of Capac resident Doug Hunter. The nighttime parade included 193 trucks this year. NAST does a lot to promote and operate the St. Ignace truck show and this year its Executive Director Chuck Kemner served as the grand marshal. Mr. Kemner helped with NAST’s t-shirt sales on and off during the show and helped oversee the show’s festivities. He rode in the parade aboard a tanker truck with a driver and his children.

“This was awesome,” Mr. Kemner said. “It was a real highlight of my life.”


At right: Darrow Brothers Excavating and its driver Kevin Ostwald again displayed one of its twotrailer gravel train semi-trucks in St. Ignace with this Kenworth W900. The Darrow fleet includes three tractor-trailers and a dump truck, all of which are painted red like every truck the company has employed since 1968. This Kenworth is a “Michigan Special” built specifically for pulling the heavy loads allowed in the state. At right: Darrow Brothers Excavating and its driver Kevin Ostwald again displayed one of its twotrailer gravel train semi-trucks in St. Ignace with this Kenworth W900. The Darrow fleet includes three tractor-trailers and a dump truck, all of which are painted red like every truck the company has employed since 1968. This Kenworth is a “Michigan Special” built specifically for pulling the heavy loads allowed in the state. The trucks on display stretched back from the early days of commercial trucks right up to the latest showroom-fresh models provided by several truck dealers for displays at Little Bear East. Manchester’s George Wacker had the show’s oldest entry with his classic 1931 Ford Model AA restored as a recreation of a period Standard Oil tanker. The fleet of trucks on display featured vehicles designed to move everything from logs to brand-new automobiles. The latest models from Kenworth, Peterbilt, Mack, Freightliner, International, Volvo, Ford, and Western Star shared displays with their predecessors and models from brands that have left the business like Brockway, Dodge, and Diamond T. The participating drivers and companies represented several states.


At left: Greg Weber of Bay City had one of the newest trucks on display, with his bright lime green and chrome 2017 Peterbilt 389. The truck was displayed in St. Ignace with an eight-axle trailer for transporting asphalt. The truck has already racked up 25,000 miles of service in its first year on the road. The custom exhaust tips above the cab are one of just 300 sets with this style that will ever be made. At left: Greg Weber of Bay City had one of the newest trucks on display, with his bright lime green and chrome 2017 Peterbilt 389. The truck was displayed in St. Ignace with an eight-axle trailer for transporting asphalt. The truck has already racked up 25,000 miles of service in its first year on the road. The custom exhaust tips above the cab are one of just 300 sets with this style that will ever be made. One of the newest trucks in the show was Bay City trucker Greg Weber’s “Lime Green Effect” and chrome 2017 Peterbilt 389. The Weber and Sons truck pulls a livebottom asphalt trailer and already has 25,000 miles on its odometer. The eight-axle trailer can hold 53 tons of asphalt. The company has 16 trucks.


At left: There were a lot of classic trucks on display during the Truck Show and a few classic trailers, too. The truck on display here is a 1954 Diamond T 921FR with a 32-foot insulated 1952 Great Dane trailer. Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin resident Rudy Fadroski owns both the period truck and the trailer. At left: There were a lot of classic trucks on display during the Truck Show and a few classic trailers, too. The truck on display here is a 1954 Diamond T 921FR with a 32-foot insulated 1952 Great Dane trailer. Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin resident Rudy Fadroski owns both the period truck and the trailer. “This [one] drives great,” Mr. Weber said, noting he likes the timeless style of the 389 model since it retains a flat top look of older semis that holds its value well.

Mr. Weber said his Peterbilt was working right up until Thursday before it was cleaned for the St. Ignace show. He expected the truck would already be back to work by Sunday night or Monday. The truck features decorative tipped exhausts. The company operates all over the state with much of its work in the Bay City and Saginaw area.


The cabover G.L. Wasko and Sons 1975 White Freightliner Powerliner leads the way as trucks in the Parade of Lights Saturday night, September 16, chug their way down State Street in St. Ignace with crowds of spectators watching on from both sides of the road. The parade across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City and back included 193 trucks this year. The V12 Detroit Diesel-powered Powerliner is one of just 484 that were ever made. (Photograph by Ruth LaChapelle) The cabover G.L. Wasko and Sons 1975 White Freightliner Powerliner leads the way as trucks in the Parade of Lights Saturday night, September 16, chug their way down State Street in St. Ignace with crowds of spectators watching on from both sides of the road. The parade across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City and back included 193 trucks this year. The V12 Detroit Diesel-powered Powerliner is one of just 484 that were ever made. (Photograph by Ruth LaChapelle) Mackinaw City’s Darrow Brothers Excavating was one of several local organizations that had a truck on display Saturday. Driver Kevin Ostwald displayed the company’s bright “Viper Red” Kenworth W900 after they were invited to be part of a display by a Kenworth dealership. The truck is used by the company to move two dump trailer gravel trains. The company has three semis and one dump truck with all of its trucks since 1968 having been painted red.


The Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show had special guests in attendance for its awards ceremony inside Little Bear East Arena Sunday morning, September 17, including (from left) this year’s grand marshal National Association of Show Trucks (NAST) Executive Director Chuck Kemner, “Ice Road Truckers” television star Alex Debogorski, and St. Ignace truck show founder Ed Reavie, who all had widely different experiences at the show. Mr. Kemner helped NAST with its operations before, during, and after the show while also taking a ride in a big rig during the Parade of Lights. Mr. Debogorski met with fans and signed autographs throughout the day at the arena Saturday during the main truck display. Mr. Reavie said he was impressed with the turnout for this year’s show, noting he never expected it to become such a large event when it started in 1996. The Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show had special guests in attendance for its awards ceremony inside Little Bear East Arena Sunday morning, September 17, including (from left) this year’s grand marshal National Association of Show Trucks (NAST) Executive Director Chuck Kemner, “Ice Road Truckers” television star Alex Debogorski, and St. Ignace truck show founder Ed Reavie, who all had widely different experiences at the show. Mr. Kemner helped NAST with its operations before, during, and after the show while also taking a ride in a big rig during the Parade of Lights. Mr. Debogorski met with fans and signed autographs throughout the day at the arena Saturday during the main truck display. Mr. Reavie said he was impressed with the turnout for this year’s show, noting he never expected it to become such a large event when it started in 1996. Mr. Ostwald said the show truck was cleaned from Wednesday, September 13, to Friday, September 15, to prepare it for the weekend’s show. He drives the truck every day throughout northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, putting 35,000 miles on it a year. The truck is a “Michigan Special,” a heavy-duty variation designed to haul the heavy loads the state allows. It features a 600-horsepower Cummins diesel engine and an 18-speed transmission.


Ken Graham Trucking of Brimley displayed a trio of big rigs, including this restored snub-nose 1952 White Freightliner that was presented to Ken Graham himself as a Father’s Day gift five years ago. Here Mr. Graham (center) poses with the truck alongside (from left) his wife Marlene and his grandson Mike Graham. The White Freightliner was restored into this factory-style red-and-gray two-tone scheme in the lead-up to the St. Ignace show, the work finished Friday, September 15, for it to go on display at the event. The truck pays tribute to the founding of the four-generation family company by the late Noble Graham in 1952. Ken Graham Trucking of Brimley displayed a trio of big rigs, including this restored snub-nose 1952 White Freightliner that was presented to Ken Graham himself as a Father’s Day gift five years ago. Here Mr. Graham (center) poses with the truck alongside (from left) his wife Marlene and his grandson Mike Graham. The White Freightliner was restored into this factory-style red-and-gray two-tone scheme in the lead-up to the St. Ignace show, the work finished Friday, September 15, for it to go on display at the event. The truck pays tribute to the founding of the four-generation family company by the late Noble Graham in 1952. “It drives like a Cadillac,” Mr. Ostwald said. “It’s like riding in a car all day.”


The show featured a large display this year honoring the 40th anniversary of the trucking movie “Smokey and the Bandit” including replicas of the film’s famous 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and its accompanying Kenworth semi. Here Jim and Renee White of Pickford (left) look over the muscle car as a signed picture of “Bandit” star Burt Reynolds sits on the dashboard. The Whites previously owned a Trans Am like this and displayed it in the St Ignace Car Show. The car was auctioned off for $15,000 later in the day. The show featured a large display this year honoring the 40th anniversary of the trucking movie “Smokey and the Bandit” including replicas of the film’s famous 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and its accompanying Kenworth semi. Here Jim and Renee White of Pickford (left) look over the muscle car as a signed picture of “Bandit” star Burt Reynolds sits on the dashboard. The Whites previously owned a Trans Am like this and displayed it in the St Ignace Car Show. The car was auctioned off for $15,000 later in the day. Brimley’s Ken Graham Trucking was another local entrant. The company, family owned for four generations, has a fleet of 100 trucks including 85 of its own big rigs and 15 owner-operators working alongside them with the trucks operating in all 48 contiguous states moving everything from lumber to steel. It has been attending the St. Ignace show since 2009 and brought three of its trucks this year, a pair of modern models from Peterbilt and Kenworth plus a period 1952 White Freightliner.


At left: The show included a pair of classic buses converted into motorhomes among its lineup this year. St. Ignace’s own Nick and Ashley Polstin entered this 1955 General Motors example in the show. The engine cover at the back of the bus is open, allowing visitors a chance to see its Detroit Diesel engine. At left: The show included a pair of classic buses converted into motorhomes among its lineup this year. St. Ignace’s own Nick and Ashley Polstin entered this 1955 General Motors example in the show. The engine cover at the back of the bus is open, allowing visitors a chance to see its Detroit Diesel engine. Mike Graham, Ken’s grandson, said the White Freightliner is a special tribute that comes from the year in which Noble Graham, Ken’s late father, founded the company. The truck was restored into a two-tone factory paint scheme before the show with the work just completed in time Friday. They tracked down the snub-nosed classic in Missouri, the model having been designed specifically as a short truck for pulling double-trailer loads.


At left: The show offered a chance to see some very rare trucks, like Jackson residents Jim and Alice Sercombe’s 1975 Dodge Big Horn semi. Dodge only sold about 260 Big Horns in the mid-1970s before production ended. This truck displayed a message in memory of the late David Sercombe on the back of its cab. At left: The show offered a chance to see some very rare trucks, like Jackson residents Jim and Alice Sercombe’s 1975 Dodge Big Horn semi. Dodge only sold about 260 Big Horns in the mid-1970s before production ended. This truck displayed a message in memory of the late David Sercombe on the back of its cab. The classic truck was a Father’s Day gift to Ken Graham five years ago. Mike Graham noted the old truck doesn’t compare to the models used today. Modern trucks only have one shifter, while this one has two. Ken Graham attended Saturday’s show and noted he has 30 grandchildren with many in the business today. He loves how they all get along. He’s proud of his company and the employees both on the road and in the shop.

“They’ve done a really nice job,” Ken Graham said of the restoration work, recalling he had no idea they had acquired the truck before they presented it to him a few years ago.

Holland driver Rick Zeerip of Rick Zeerip and Sons trucking had one of the several trucks on display from a defunct semi brand with his white 1992 Ford L9000. Ford built big rigs until 1998 when Daimler- Benz bought out its line of trucks and rebranded them as Sterling models. Ford continues to make smaller commercial trucks. While displayed without a trailer in St. Ignace the truck, one of the three Mr. Zeerip splits time between, usually pulls a flatbed when working. It is often filled with caged turkeys from the Michigan Turkey Producers. The Zeerips are a family of truck drivers, with Mr. Zeerip involved in the business for 42 years. While trucks like this have been out of production for almost two decades, there are still many on the road so parts are not difficult to acquire. Mr. Zeerip noted this one runs well.

Mr. Zeerip always wanted a Ford truck like this and acquired this one about a year and a half ago. The truck only has 630,000 miles on its odometer since it was previously a farm truck that saw little use. His three-truck fleet includes two Fords.

“We’re a die-hard Ford family,” Mr. Zeerip said. “I wish they hadn’t stopped making them.”

Atlanta resident Howard Hubbard displayed his 1986 Kenworth C500 log truck during the show. His twotone blue-and-white truck is named the “Blue Mule” in reference to its color and the protagonist’s truck in the 1975 film “White Line Fever.” The KW had a special mule hood ornament and special lettering on the side reading “Blowin’ Smoke” in reference to a song he plays with a guitar. One of his sons did the lettering. The truck was freshly painted before its display in St. Ignace. Mr. Hubbard is semi-retired, but still hauls logs with this truck because he finds it so much fun to do so.

It’s rare to see 1986 Kenworth C500s still on the road today. Even before the test of time began, the model didn’t sell in high numbers back then because they cost a lot to purchase. This truck was $81,000 when new. Mr. Howard bought his Kenworth new and has owned it ever since. It’s the lone truck for his company, Howard Hubbard Forest Products, although another of his sons operates six other trucks. The truck started life as a standard tractor truck before it was stretched and converted into a straight truck. It was given a new Caterpillar diesel engine in 1999 and a new frame six years ago. Preventive maintenance has kept the rig running well.

“It still drives like new,” Mr. Hubbard said. “There’s not a rattle in it.”

Zeeland Freight Services (ZFS) brought a special semi-retired truck to display Saturday with its 1980 International Transtar II 4070B with a tanker trailer. Zeeland driver Steve Kamysiak brought the truck to Saturday’s show noting the company had owned this truck for about a year and a half. It is usually a display only vehicle but occasionally is pressed into service for runs when the weather is nice. The company processes soybeans into oil for a variety of uses, including selling it under the Zoye brand name to stores and providing it to bakeries and factories making products like mayonnaise and salad dressing.

ZFS built the International to be a throwback to the type of truck it operated in the 1980s when the company had a fleet of similar trucks in a red-and-white two-tone livery. Today it paints its trucks white with a red stripe. When the efforts to find one of their original trucks came up dry this one was acquired at an estate sale; it previously belonged to a farmer who one of their suppliers. Since it was a farm truck that only worked at harvest time it had just 274,000 miles on its odometer when they acquired it. A period Detroit Diesel engine underneath its tilt cab powers it down the road.

“This is a blast to drive,” Mr. Kamysiak said. “It’s loud, noisy, a bumpy old spring ride, and I love every minute of it. It has so much character. People love seeing this truck go down the road.”

Mr. Debogorski of “Ice Road Truckers” met with visitors at the arena and rode in a truck during the parade. He was on his feet from 9 a.m. all the way to 7 p.m. Saturday meeting with visitors.

“This was better than ever,” Mr. Debogorski said. “I got to see a lot of friendly faces….I was well welcomed. I didn’t see a grumpy face all day long.”

This year’s show celebrated the 40th anniversary of the truckingthemed movie “Smokey and the Bandit” in several ways, including a screening of the movie inside the arena Friday. A replica of the movie’s famous black 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was displayed, complete with a signed picture of the film’s star Burt Reynolds in his “Bandit” costume on the dashboard, alongside a replica of its semi; a black-and-gold Kenworth with a trailer adorned with murals of a bandit robbing a stagecoach. NAST auctioned off the Trans Am Saturday afternoon, raising $15,000 for the organization.

Pickford residents Jim and Renee White were among those who looked over the “Bandit” display Saturday. They both are fans of the movies and have copies of all three of them. They also once owned a black Trans Am like the movie car and displayed it in the St. Ignace Car Show. Both were impressed by Saturday’s show.

“This is a fantastic show that couldn’t get any better,” Mr. White said.

“The layout is great,” Mrs. White added. “Everyone here is kind and polite.”

St. Ignace Car Show and truck show founder Ed Reavie was pleased with how this year’s show played out. The first show back in 1996 was just nine trucks displayed on St. Ignace’s now-demolished state ferry Dock 2, with the event largely serving as a sideshow to the On the Waterfront car and toy show that the truck show later outgrew. He never expected the show to get as big as it has.

Mr. Reavie enjoyed meeting with his friend Bob Guy at this year’s show. He cited Mr. Guy as being a big help in bringing the show to life, as he helped teach Mr. Reavie how to stage a truck show and laid the blueprints for the event that are still in use today. The show is named in memory of another planner of the original show, Richard Crane.

The Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show results were not ready by press time and will be in next week’s issue of The St. Ignace News.

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