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Bumps, Detours, and Roadblocks

Road to Showfest 2010

Bumps, Detours, and Roadblocks
Posted May 18 2010 03:36 PM by John_Mata_Jr 
Filed under: Editorials

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The return of Showfest is a pretty big deal. I never had an opportunity to check out the show in its original location in Greenville, Mississippi, so making it out to the new location in Tunica was an exciting thought....

...until the day I hit the road. Leaving from LAX bright and early Friday morning, I was scheduled to make a pit stop in Dallas before meeting up with Jimmy Cox, (owner of the Red Sled Sierra, which will grace our upcoming issue #9 cover) freelance photog Josh Fleetwood (featured in Mini Truckin', and Custom Classic Trucks), and a few other buddies I've met along the way, in Ft. Smith Arkansas for a legitimate road trip.


Needless to say, the plans that make the most sense for every party involved usually get derailed for one reason or another. Instead of ending up in Ft. Smith at 3pm CST on Friday afternoon and attacking the interstate, I found myself at the Dallas airport, after first being rerouted to El Paso, due to severe thunderstorms. I wouldn't be hitting the road with a truck full of friends after all. No energizing pit stops for fast food, no stopping to gas up and chat, and no sharing of anticipation.

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Instead, I spent the night on a cot in the Dallas airport, along with about a hundred or so other air travelers that also hit the same imaginary brick wall. After spending 18 hours there, I finally boarded a plane headed to Memphis, which is only 30 minutes or so away from Tunica. I rented a silly little compact car, and I found myself at Sam's Town casino, the new home of Showfest, just as the show was winding down for the night on Saturday...what a bust! I showered up, ate some dinner, and somehow managed to avoid sitting down at the blackjack table or throwing back a few cold ones. The big comfy bed in the hotel room looked like Heaven on Earth given the few broken hours of sound sleep I was lucky enough to get this far into the trip. Lights out by 10pm.

I woke up Sunday only to see a dark, menacing sky that forced the majority of show entrants to pack up and head for home early. The results of the unofficial poll that I conducted on Sunday indicated that the average showgoer drove about 6 hours one way to attend Showfest—now that's dedication! No wonder why nearly half of the vehicles on display on Saturday were nowhere to be found by 11am on Sunday.

Red Sled
Camping in Ft. Smith

So although I didn't get to enjoy the show at its pinnacle, I did have the pleasure of seeing some good friends that I only get a chance to visit with maybe once or twice a year, so I started noticing the silver lining in the pitch black rainclouds overhead. After the awards ceremony, I tossed my bags in Jimmy's Chevy Kodiak, ditched the rental car in Memphis, and was officially headed back "home" to Arkansas, where I was going to be catching a flight back to Cali first thing in the morning. We did experience some heavy thunderstorms  but nothing that that even had us thinking of pulling off to the shoulder like the rest of the traffic ahead of us.
Since I didn't trust myself to get up to board my plane on time, I planned on spending yet another night in the airport since my flight was leaving at dark o'clock. To my surprise, the Ft. Smith airport completely shuts down at night, and reopens at 4:30am. Considering how bad the rest of the weekend was going, I didn't find catching a few hours of shuteye on a stone bench just outside of the airport to be the worst scenario imaginable. They really need an on-duty secutity guard to keep crazy campers such as myself company during the wee hours of the night.  Funny enough, my flights home both landed early and ahead of schedule. Imagine that.

Now that the weekend filled with hellish travel is now over, I can still say that I had an amazing time while at Showfest version 2.0. This show is not to be missed next year, so make it a point to request some vacation time off of work, and start planning the trip. Just make sure to consult the weather forecast, oh, and don't forget to pack an air mattress and a tent. Bug spray would be nice too.

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