If you haven’t heard it by now, the Central Wisconsin Military Vehicle Show is a show like no other. Show organizer and longtime dealer, Tom Zat, characterizes the annual event as “Fun in the Northwoods.” And anyone who has attended, the fun and games begin on Thursday and go through to late Saturday night.

This year’s theme for the Central Military Vehicle Show was the “Year of the Mule.” On any of the days of the August event, more than a dozen mules could be found driving or grazing on the expansive, forested show grounds. Brad Holcomb (left) was this year's designated "Mule Herder."

This year’s theme for the Central Military Vehicle Show was the “Year of the Mule.” On any of the days of the August event, more than a dozen mules could be found driving or grazing on the expansive, forested show grounds. Brad Holcomb (left) was this year's designated "Mule Herder."

The event takes place on the wooded spread of the Motorama Museum in Aniwa, Wisconsin (about equidistant from Wausau and Antigo). The woods does not stop at the museum’s gate, however. It embraces the entire complex. That means, the 50+ vehicle owners, all of the vendors, and dozens of reenactors are able to display and take part in the activities under the shade of towering oaks, maples, and pines.

This year, the theme of the event was the “Year of the Mule.” The call to the hobby included the phrase, “Don’t be an a$%, bring your Mule!” And they did. More than a dozen Mules could be counted on any of the event’s three days.

The fun began on Thursday with trail rides that included some serious mud holes. Lucky for participants, there were plenty of big trucks to pull out those who couldn’t make the crossing.

From there, the newly-muddied Mules participated in a “gymkhana” that included pushing 1/4-barrels and a blind-folded navigator-guided autocross that culminated with balancing on a teeter-totter.

By Friday morning, the event grounds and vendor spaces had filled. With a nod to Covid safety, no indoor vending took place — everything was outdoors leaving individuals to determine their own level of personal space and safety.

Friday concluded with a pinup contest featuring vintage fashions and attire and a live band.

As in past events, “awards” are presented to participants, but these aren’t like most show awards. For the most part, they reflect the overriding message of the weekend: “Just sit back and have fun!” Here, we see the winner of “Most fabrication in less than 1/2-scale, awarded to Larry Splinter for his tiny-but-detailed 1942 GPW “Meep.

As in past events, “awards” are presented to participants, but these aren’t like most show awards. For the most part, they reflect the overriding message of the weekend: “Just sit back and have fun!” Here, we see the winner of “Most fabrication in less than 1/2-scale, awarded to Larry Splinter for his tiny-but-detailed 1942 GPW “Meep.

Those who made it up for the 8 o’clock opening on Saturday satisfied breakfast options from an array of food trucks that were available on the grounds both days.

No vehicle driving is permitted on Saturday, but it didn’t slow the activity. Guests strolled the shaded road to view more than 50 historic military vehicles and talk to their owners.

“Most Original Parts on a WWII Vehicle” went to Dan Wesolowski’s 1942 GPW.

“Most Original Parts on a WWII Vehicle” went to Dan Wesolowski’s 1942 GPW. 

This led them straight into the “upper” and “lower” vendor areas where they could find piles of militaria, firearms (NO live ammo), and vehicle parts. The WWII reenactors staged the “Battle of the Castle” that involved a very clever-for-2021 hypothetical scenario: The German Army reenactors were tasked at the end of war to round up Waffen SS soldiers. Who could complain about potential offensiveness of that one?

Small guided tours of the Autorama Museum were available, as well. For those who haven’t been there, the Museum houses a massive collection of unusual 20th century automobiles, racing cars, 100s of motorcycles and just one or two military vehicles. It is a celebration of internal combustion that has something for nearly every automotive taste.

Larry Langer’s 1941 WC-12.

“Baddest-A$% Dodge” went to Larry Langer’s 1941 WC-12.

Vendors aren’t able to leave early on Saturday. And to get them to want to stay, Zat hosts yet another party after closing that includes a whacky award ceremony (anyone who displays a vehicle with their window card gets an “award”) and more music and dancing. After 5PM, the vehicles can roll again, and boy do they. Though it is only a few hundred yards from the fully electrified camping grounds, many take the opportunity to attend the dance by way of Jeep or Mule. And why not, it’s all about showing your colors and having fun!

Steve Leppla earned the “Best Christmas Tree Simulation” for his brightly lit 1992 HMMWV..

Steve Leppla earned the “Best Christmas Tree Simulation” for his brightly lit 1992 HMMWV. 

Cody Holcomb earned the “Time for a Bath” award — not for himself, but for the 1969 M274A5 that just couldn’t seem to stay out of the MV trail’s mud holes.

Cody Holcomb earned the “Time for a Bath” award — not for himself, but for the 1969 M274A5 that just couldn’t seem to stay out of the MV trail’s mud holes. 

“Loosest Nut in a Truck” went to Zac from Hartland, Wisconsin — his description, not mine!

“Loosest Nut in a Truck” went to Zac from Hartland, Wisconsin — his description, not mine!

Our “Military Vehicle Pinup Truck” (geez, I really did plunge over the cliff this year!) went to Arlen Anklin’s Ford GTB. You might recognize it from the cover of the August 2021 issue of MVM).

Our “Military Vehicle Pinup Truck” (geez, I really did plunge over the cliff this year!) went to Arlen Anklin’s Ford GTB. You might recognize it from the cover of the August 2021 issue of MVM).

“Oldest A$%” went to Brad Holcomb for his fully restored to original configuration 1959 Willys M274.

“Oldest A$%” went to Brad Holcomb for his fully restored to original configuration 1959 Willys M274.

My sensitivity training failed me when I had to award the “Nicest A$%” award to Mrs. Angela Holcomb to celebrate her 1968 M274A5.

My sensitivity training failed me when I had to award the “Nicest A$%” award to Mrs. Angela Holcomb to celebrate her 1968 M274A5. 

Well, it seems Mrs. Holcomb was well-guarded. We recognized her husband, Brad Holcomb, with the “Craziest Weapon Platform.”

Well, it seems Mrs. Holcomb was well-guarded. We recognized her husband, Brad Holcomb, with the “Craziest Weapon Platform.” 

I really took a plunge into the inappropriate when I had to announce that LaDonna Meyer’s 1968 M274A5 was deemed the “Flattest Deck on Four Wheels.”

I really took a plunge into the inappropriate when I had to announce that LaDonna Meyer’s 1968 M274A5 was deemed the “Flattest Deck on Four Wheels.” 

With no doubt, Brad Ackerman earned the “Most extras on a Military Vehicle” when he showed off his 1968 M715 with enough Vietnam field gear for a 8-man squad.

With no doubt, Brad Ackerman earned the “Most extras on a Military Vehicle” when he showed off his 1968 M715 with enough Vietnam field gear for a 8-man squad. 

Bryan Manning received the “Oddest Shade of Olive Drab” to recognize his M38 unique color.

Bryan Manning received the “Oddest Shade of Olive Drab” to recognize his M38 unique color.

“Best Tribute to a Hobby Pioneer” went to Tom Treweek’s salute to Kevin Kronlund with the Diamond T that Kevin had restored.

“Best Tribute to a Hobby Pioneer” went to Tom Treweek’s salute to Kevin Kronlund with the Diamond T that Kevin had restored. 

“The Coolest Original Paint” recognized Tom Treweek’s M123AC’s original four-color camouflage.

“The Coolest Original Paint” recognized Tom Treweek’s M123AC’s original four-color camouflage.

Mike Niebuhr’s meticulously restored M1079 and M1082 trailer earned him the “Most Prepared for a Modern War” award.

Mike Niebuhr’s meticulously restored M1079 and M1082 trailer earned him the “Most Prepared for a Modern War” award. 

Not to be outdone, Ken Spencer took home the “My Truck is Bigger Than Your Truck” award for his 1980 M920 tractor.

Not to be outdone, Ken Spencer took home the “My Truck is Bigger Than Your Truck” award for his 1980 M920 tractor.

“Best Vietnam / Cold War Tribute” went to Richard Cleey’s 1967 Ford M151A1.

“Best Vietnam / Cold War Tribute” went to Richard Cleey’s 1967 Ford M151A1.

Ironically, I couldn’t find an owner’s name on the “Most Handwriting on a Military Vehicle” recipient for his “Veterans sign my Jeep” entrant.

Ironically, I couldn’t find an owner’s name on the “Most Handwriting on a Military Vehicle” recipient for his “Veterans sign my Jeep” entrant. 

“Freshest Rope Bumper” went to Jeffrey Marshall for his 1943 GPW.

“Freshest Rope Bumper” went to Jeffrey Marshall for his 1943 GPW. He had a 1940 Columbia on display, too. 

Bryan Manning’s M725 earned the “Best Starting Point for a Restoration.”

Bryan Manning’s M725 earned the “Best Starting Point for a Restoration.” 

“Best Toy for the Sandbox” went to Robert Borkenhagen’s 1989 HMMWV.

“Best Toy for the Sandbox” went to Robert Borkenhagen’s 1989 HMMWV.

“Best Prepared for a Bugout” went to Steve Harris’ 1971 AM General M109A3.

“Best Prepared for a Bugout” went to Steve Harris’ 1971 AM General M109A3.

With yellowish headlights, Rich & Dave Westbury’s M151A1 garnered the “Best Prepared for a Foggy Morning” award.

With yellowish headlights, Rich & Dave Westbury’s M151A1 garnered the “Best Prepared for a Foggy Morning” award. 

And finally, a group award to the “Biggest Group of A$%es” went to all the Mule owners who brought and displayed their M274s.

And finally, a group award to the “Biggest Group of A$%es” went to all the Mule owners who brought and displayed their M274s. 

The annual event takes place on the third weekend in August. In 2022, this will be the weekend of August 18-20. The Motorama Auto Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization, is Wisconsin’s largest auto museum. It is located at 181705 Stradale Lane, Aniwa, WI 54408; phone 715-449-2141. You can learn more about the Museum at www.alfaheaven.com and the Central Wisconsin Military Show at www.centralwisconsinmilitaryshow.com.

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