On June 22 of this year, the scene across the grounds of the N.C. Transportation Museum will prove the truth of a single, indisputable fact.
Fire Trucks Are Cool
Now in its fifth year, the N.C. Transportation Museum’s Fire Truck Festival has become the biggest single day event during the museum’s very busy year-long schedule and the largest gathering of fire trucks in the state of North Carolina. The event brings together dozens of fire departments, preservation groups, and individual collectors. In all, the 100 or so pieces of antique and modern firefighting equipment, dozens of firefighters, special activities, special exhibits, live music, and family atmosphere is again expected to draw upwards of 5000 attendees.
Why do thousands attend this event?
Because fire trucks are cool.
After attending the 2018 Fire Truck Festival, Dustin Weese said, “I made the seven-hour drive from Pennsylvania just for this event. I had a blast.” Dave Hoernle brought his bright yellow Hahn fire truck to the festival, saying, “We had a great day. So glad we were able to bring our truck to its first show.”
From Fast Trains To Fire Trucks
The N.C. Transportation Museum, located in Spencer, N.C., is a very unique location. The museum sits on the grounds of what was once Spencer Shops, a steam locomotive repair facility that opened in 1896. The Shops were an essential part of the nation’s railroad infrastructure during the first half of the 20th century, with 3000 full time workers keeping locomotives running from New York to Florida.
The Shops shut down in the 1960s and the site was given to the state of North Carolina in the late 1970s. Retaining the railroading infrastructure from years past, the museum provides seasonal train rides, tons of transportation-related exhibits, and is home to the restoration and maintenance of railroading, automotive, and aviation equipment.
Building A Fire Truck Festival
“Without our fire departments and fire truck collectors, this event wouldn’t be possible,” said June Hall, event organizer, as she busily prepped for 2018’s big event. Each year, Hall works with museum volunteer and volunteer firefighter Chasity Young to gather as many fire trucks as possible. “Last year, we had trucks from five different states and all points in North Carolina, plus, lots of other equipment, like the Charlotte Fire Department’s steam powered pumper and the N.C. Forest Service helicopter.”
New to the festival for 2019, the Charlotte Fire Department will bring their 1861 hand powered water pumper. Demonstrations of the hand-cranked 158-year old piece of equipment are planned during the event. Also new this year, the museum has added a fire truck flea market with booths full of firefighter-related merchandise. Vendor registrations will be accepted leading up the event.
In addition to a smoke house, obstacle course, and bounce houses that have been available in past years, there will also be more activities for kids, like a Little Mr. and Ms. Fire Truck costume competition.
“This is truly a family event,” said Hall. “Kids, parents, grandparents, firefighters, and firefighter support groups, they all attend and have a great time.”
Music And Moving Moments
Norfolk Southern Corporation, in support of the festival, will bring the Lawmen Band, originally formed by railroad policemen, again this year. Highlights of their performances come from the showmanship of fiddler Bobby Napier and a guaranteed performance of the George Strait classic, “The Fireman.”
Attending last year and returning for 2019 will be the Piedmont Firefighters Pipes and Drums.
Advance Tickets Available
Admission to the June 22, 2019 Fire Truck Festival, which includes museum admission, is just $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and military, and $4 for children 3-12. Admission to the Fire Truck Festival, admission to the museum, and an on-site train ride is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and military, and $8 for children 3-12. Ages two and under are free. Tickets are on sale now at www.nctrans.org.
Fire Truck registration is ongoing. To bring a fire truck to the event, individuals and departments can download a registration form on www.nctrans.org, or contact June Hall at 704-636-2889 ext. 268 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vendor registration is also available online.
As always, admission is free for those bringing a fire truck.
Because fire trucks are cool.