Tuesday was the big day - the day we left our Land Line Now studios in Grain Valley and headed east about 470 miles to Louisville, Kentucky, for the annual trek to the Mid America Trucking Show, or MATS.
MATS, which started in 1972, has grown into the longest-running must-see event for the trucking industry. Three days and thousands of people at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, and I will be one of the thousands. You’ll easily recognize me. I will be the slack-jawed blond looking lost because I probably am. The expo center is beyond huge.
It’s my very first trip to the MATS and getting there was half the fun. Barry Spillman, our producer- extraordinaire and sound engineer, promised to not eat beef jerky on the trip to Louisville for obvious reasons, and in turn, I promised not to take off my shoes in the van for less than obvious reasons, but trust me, you DON’T want me to take off my shoes. (Barry violated our agreement.)
Mark Reddig, the host of Land Line Now was the other companion for this cross-country excursion. Mark made no such contractual arrangements, but unnamed sources told me to be prepared lots of pit stops for caffeine intake and a multitude of stories. (...note to self, pack headphones)
For anyone heading to MATS from the Kansas City, I’d like to pass along two important bits of information. Make sure you get gas before you pass Mount Vernon, Illinois, on I-64. And equally important, be polite to the Indiana State Police when stopped. (Right Mark?)
The Mid America Trucking Show covers more than a million square feet filled with trucks, technology, exhibits, products and people. Did I mention there’s lots of people? More than 70,000 people are expected to visit the show to see the latest innovations in the trucking industry. Be prepared to walk.
The most oft repeated bit of advice I got from many MATS veterans, “Wear comfortable shoes” My Fitbit is fully-charged to record my thousands upon thousands of steps. All those steps will help work off the calories consumed. Press events are often accompanied with breakfast, lunch or dinner or snacks. Some might call it bribery. I call it southern hospitality.
And remember, if you see me somewhere in the West, North or South Wing and I appear lost, please be kind and guide me to the Land Line Now Booth, #11128,, and remember you were a MATS first-timer once too.