March 20, 2023

Truck show returns with new tech and old favorites

PEORIA, Ill. — After a two-year hiatus, the Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show is back.

“We are excited. There are a lot of people in the industry who are just excited about there being an event again,” said Don Schaefer, executive vice president of the Mid-West Truckers Association.

The show was last held at the Peoria Civic Center in 2020.

“We did our show that year, we had our profit and loss seminar and then everything shut down,” Schaefer said.

The show was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year, the MTA along with presenters and exhibitors were in the final stages of planning for the show when a surge in COVID-19 forced organizers to cancel just weeks before the show.

“People and exhibitors were pulling out like crazy, there was an uptick in COVID and we had to cancel it,” Schaefer said.

This year, the MTA is able to take advantage of that show that wasn’t.

“We had all the planning done. We had the programs done. We just put all of that on a shelf and this year we took it down, reopened it and here we are,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer said the unofficial theme of this year’s show centers around technology.

“There is a lot of new equipment, a lot of new stuff out there and we have a lot of new exhibitors. We have the theme of how technology is changing trucking, it’s really gotten sophisticated, and how people are adjusting to the new technological stuff. That is reflected in our exhibitors,” Schaefer said.

The seminars, which cover a variety of topics in the trucking industry, also will cover the advances in technology — for better and worse.

One of the big questions facing not just the trucking industry, but local, county, state and the federal governments is how to fund transportation infrastructure in the age of electric vehicles.

“We have so many electric vehicles on the road now and the numbers keep growing. It’s going to have a negative impact on the motor fuel tax funds. You don’t pay motor fuel tax on electric vehicles,” Schaefer said.

“So, the discussion there is about a new revenue strategy. How do you capture those vehicles who use the roads, but don’t pay motor fuel tax? That’s going to be an issue we’ll be talking about and what the alternatives are.

“We don’t see anyone on the federal side taking any major steps, they are punting it to the states instead and some states, like Oregon and California, have done test projects with VMT,” or Vehicle Miles Traveled.

The future of trucks themselves also will be a topic as representatives from Kenworth and CIT Trucks present a truck and manufacturing equipment update.

“What is the future of trucks? Alternative fuels? Electric vehicles? Autonomous vehicles? Where are these at and where are they going? It’s just a matter of time before all of this shows up, but how soon? We’ve got representatives from the truck manufacturers coming in to talk about what they see in the future,” Schaefer said.

Representatives from Cummins and Kenworth will present sessions on alternative fuels technology.

Popular seminars from past truck shows also will be back.

“One of our favorites is back, where we get the Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation all together and talking about enforcement,” Schaefer said.

“What are the rules and regs out there? What do we have to watch out for? When is this and that going to happen? That is always a good session.

Jim Davis, a financial services officer with U.S. Bank, who is based in Springfield, will be back to present a business economic outlook.

“Jim is just a great speaker. He boils it down so people can understand,” Schaefer said. “What’s going on with the economy? What kind of an impact will it have?”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, who represents the 16th congressional district in Illinois, will be on hand Saturday morning to present the perspective from Washington, D.C.

On Friday, state Reps. C.D. Davidsmeyer, Norine Hammond and Ryan Spain will be on hand to discuss Illinois legislation and pending legislation that impacts the trucking industry.

One other session that the show organizers have brought back is an industry roundtable aimed at beginning truckers and those new to the business.

“We call it ‘Tips, Pitfalls and Secrets to Growing Your Trucking Company.’ The young people who are coming into this business, all they know is they have a truck. So, how are they going to make money? This roundtable is designed for them,” Schaefer said.

New this year for children attending the show is the Pull for the Cure pedal semi pull. The pull replaces the Pinewood Derby races.

“We can’t get anymore Pinewood Derby trucks. The last ones we had, we bought from the Canadian Trucking Association back in 2017 and we ran out of those. So, we are going to do this Pull for the Cure. It’s a semi pedal pull, complete with a sled, just like a tractor pull,” Schaefer said.

“Our members have been playing around and customizing the semi, they’ve done some really neat things with it. It should be fun and it’s something different.”

The Truckers Pride Truck Beauty Contest is back. Schaefer said that so far, around 25 trucks are entered and he expects more to register by the Feb. 1 registration deadline.

“We have show trucks, work trucks, antique trucks and the American Truck Historical Society, who had the great show in Springfield last summer, is going to bring some of their trucks in,” Schaefer said.

If You Go…

What: 2023 Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 3 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 4.

Where: Peoria Civic Center, 201 SW Jefferson Ave., Peoria, Illinois.

How Much: Registration information is available at and or by calling Mid-West Truckers Association at 217-525-0310. There is a fee for the convention and seminar portion of the show.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor