The 44th annual convention of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association was held on August 6-10, 2019, in Pennsylvania on the very expansive grounds of the York Co. Fairgrounds in York, Penn. This year’s show was unique in several aspects. First, unlike past conventions where a local affiliate served as a host, this year’s event did not have a hosting affiliate. The MVPA directors and HQ staff managed everything and produced a show with free admission for all current MVPA members.
The York Fairgrounds is a huge complex featuring a large outside arena with grandstands and a number of buildings. The display vehicles nearly filled the two largest buildings with plenty more on display outside. The arena was also put to good use with a number of running tanks, historic military vehicle (HMV) races, and weapons demos, including a live flame thrower.
Another new addition to the annual convention saw the 2019 MVPA Lincoln Highway Trans-Continental convoy depart from the fairgrounds on Saturday. Before the convoyers departed, they staged a large form-up and parade around the arena, culminating with a pass in review with introductions of all the participants.
As the home of the Pennsylvania State Fair, the size of the fairgrounds became apparent when you started walking around. To give some idea of layout, most visitors parked and entered the main arena building, which contained roughly a 60/40 mix of vendors and display vehicles, along with the MVPA HQ area and the GOV Planet display. Exiting this building to the north, visitors found a large paved lot sectioned off for HMV display that typically contained around 40 vehicles. Just beyond this was the arena with grandstands where tanks and other HMVs made laps on the almost half-mile round dirt track, interspersed with weapons and flame-thrower demos. A camping area mainly occupied by convoy participants and their vehicles flanked the track on two sides.
Exiting the main arena building and turning to the east, hungry visitors could find four or five food trucks offering a variety of lunch options. It was probably wise to have a bite because beyond the food area, you were soon immersed in the huge outside vendor area that ran in several directions and rows. Mixed in with the vendors were some outside vehicle displays that included a small group of reenactors with Jeeps and an M20 armored car. Also of note was a line of WWII Dodges owned by Ernie Baals, and of course the “Iffy Lube” Jeep service tent. Tucked off to the far side of the vendor area, the Huey from the Liberty War Bird Association setup a small display to sell rides on Thursday and Friday,.
Tired yet? Well keep walking because beyond the outside vendor area was another building full of contest and display vehicles. The Memorial Building housed most of the big contest winners. This included the M7B1 Priest owned by Greg Wolanin, and Sherwin Koning’s ‘42 Ford GPW. Other notables in this building were John Murray’s collection of M29C Weasels and the Harley WLA displayed by Barry Welsh and his wife Paula. A favorite display had to be the “Christmas in Vietnam” camp setup with two deuces, a mule (with period-correct Christmas tree), and a bunch of period paraphernalia including the mandatory Budweiser can pyramid, all fielded by Tim Kress.
Back at the main building, the winners included Joe Hall with his ‘42 Ford GPW along with another GPW owned by Dee Pierini who was also part of the Greater Pennsylvania Association’s 7th Cavalry Vietnam display with her M151, which won Best Overall Display.
Just outside on the paved lot, most of the vehicles were display only (therefore, not judged). That didn’t make them any less interesting, however. Some of the more unusual vehicles were there, including a number of WWII Ward La France wreckers and GMC CCKWs. One CCKWs featured the rare tipper/dump rear body while down the row, a Chevy 1.5-ton towed a very intact-looking 40mm anti-aircraft gun.
If you remember last year’s convention in Louisville, it was a very Jeep heavy show. This year, it seemed that the 6-wheeled heavy trucks were prominent. Overall, there seemed to be more WWII vehicles than in recent years.
All this, and we haven’t even talked about the arena events yet! The main attraction there was a group of heavy vehicles from the Wheels of Liberation group out of New Oxford, Penn. This impressive collection included an M4A1 Sherman, Sextant SPG, M5 IH half-track, and an M5 Stuart minus the turret. All of these vehicles pounded the dirt track early and often.
But wait, there’s more! They also brought a Ward La France wrecker, M3A1 Scout Car, Chevy 1.5-ton w/Bofors gun, WC51, and a WC63. And for the fans of British trucks, they even brought an AEC Matador, and a Morris Commercial Quad,both hauling field guns.
For an eye-catching demonstration, the group strung a steel cable, connecting the booms of two Ward La France wreckers and floated a Jeep across an imaginary obstacle. Interestingly, all of the vehicles in the collection bare Polish markings as desired by their owner. It took a lot of effort to get all that hardware out there and running — this deserves some recognition.
Besides tanks in motion, the other big feature in the arena had to be the flame thrower demonstrations that drew large crowds on Friday and Saturday. Flame-master Charlie Hobson from New York lit up the place, and performed weapons demos, much to the approval of the busy grandstands.
Just in case you had run out of things to look at or do, the MVPA organized day tours for each and every day from Monday through Saturday. On Monday there was a Washington DC tour that included all the memorials, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Smithsonian museum complex. Tuesday featured a tour of Hershey, PAthat hit historic downtown Hershey, the Antique Automobile Club Museum, and Hershey Chocolate World.
Wednesday was busy with a day trip to Historic Gettysburg that started with shopping the quaint downtown area, then moved on to the park visitor’s center, with its “Cyclorama” 360 degree circular painting of the battle, before finally taking a guided tour of the battlefield itself. Then there was the afternoon / evening open house at “Camp Buck” that featured the remarkable vehicles of the renown collector Frank Buck and a BBQ.
Thursday saw trips to the UTZ Potato Chip Factory, the Railroad Museum of PA. and the Lancaster Outlet Mall. The Harley-Davidson Factory tour took place early Friday morning, followed by a visit to the Center of Military History Museum (Carlisle Barracks), and finally on Saturday there was a day trip to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, PA.
All together, this was quite the list of options, with pretty much something for everyone. This could also be used to sum up the entire convention. This was quite an ambitious undertaking planned and executed by a small group of individuals. Like any complex machine with that many moving parts, there were bound to be issues, however nothing that detracted from a great show. This is especially true considering the new hosting format and features of this year’s show.
Looking forward, lessons learned from this show will produce even better future shows, as the MVPA will be working closely with the Findlay Military Association to produce 2020’s convention in Findlay, Ohio.
For more info on the MVPA’s activities including the annual convention, log onto www.MVPA.org
- Motopool Class Gold - Kevin Emdee’s 1966 Johnson Furnace Co. M416.
- Original Class Winner - Richard Kainer’s 1942 Ford GPW.
- MVPA Expert Driver Award - Brock Jolliffe in his 1945 M29 Weasel & Charles Toneyin his 1951 Dodge M37.
- MVPA Recruiter of the Year (2018) - Joseph Werner for recruiting 10 new members.
- 2018 Affiliate Newsletter Editor Award - Floyd Jones, Northern Recon News.
- MVPA Annual Website Award - Military Vehicle Collectors of California.
You may also like
*As an Amazon Associate, Military Trader / Military Vehicles earns from qualifying purchases.