Three things signal the beginning of autumn in the north woods of Wisconsin: The leave turn their first hues of autumn color, the cranberry farmers make the final inspection of their harvesting machines and about 400 MV enthusiasts converge at a small grass landing strip to play, enjoy and celebrate with 100 military vehicles and about a dozen warbirds.
Hosted by Kevin and Thea Kronlund of Army Cars USA, Warbirds North, and the Military Vehicle Preservation Group (MVPG) of Spooner, WI, the Annual Military Vehicle Preservation Group's Fall Party has become a benchmark for how to conduct a fun, historically respectful, politics-free, military vehicle event.
What are the elements of the Spooner Fall Party's success??Friendliness and generosity seems to be the event hosts' underlying rule. This year, the Red Bull Chapter of the MVPA co-hosted the event, lending a hand toward providing insurance. This is a crucial element, because everyone has the opportunity for tank and plane rides, convoys, and free access to more than 100 historic military vehicles and warbirds.
Second, this is a "party" in the true sense of the word. It isn't a "rally," "meet,"?"show," "convention," or any other type of traditional gathering of MV?enthusiasts. There are no vendors, meetings, workshops, or ceremonies. Everyone is able to sit on the flight line, watch planes and vehicles, talk, eat and just enjoy the ambiance of a north woods air strip loaded with a wide array of military hardware.
Every MV?event can't be this laid-back...MVers do like the chance to buy and sell, and there are times when more ceremony and reverence are appropriate. But for a season wind-down in a relaxing, friendly, MV-filled atmosphere, nothing beats the "Spooner Fall Party."?
The 2008 Spooner MVPG Fall Party will be held at Warbirds North in Trego, Wisconsin (just north of Spooner) September 5-6. For information, contact Kevin Kronlund at Army Cars USA, 715.635.9203 or check their web site, www.ArmyCarsUSA.com
Taken from the passenger seat of an L-19 Birddog, this view provides a sense of the north woods location of the Spooner Fall party location. Warbirds North has several grass landing strips and five hangers. Photo by Denise Moss
Friday night begins with about 1-mile convoy to the local north woods bar and grill, the Twin Oaks. Parking out front is adequate to accommodate some of the parking.
If I had a restaurant, this is what I would want out front!
The event has grown so much, that Friday night dining was done in shifts.
When guests arrived, their first sight at the show ground was this 90mm anti-tank gun.
A new sight in Spooner was this Dodge WC-64 "Knock-Down" ambulance. It arrived at its new home just the day before the party!
This Ordnance Department "Truck, Spare Parts," was fully equipped and ready for repairs of M1s, carbines and machine guns!
Diamond T 969 Wrecker was just one of many 4-ton trucks.
1941 Ward LaFrance wrecker
The 2-1/2 ton CCKW with "Wrecker Set No. 7A" with a bigger brother, the 10-ton M1A1.
Corbitt 6-ton prime mover.
Some of the "Spooner Heavies".
The MVPG's M4A3 "Battling Bitch" was giving rides all weekend.
A WWII Caterpillar D-4 smoothed the "tank circle" throughout the entire event.
Some more of the Spooner heavies.
Not part of the Spooner heavies, but rather, heavy-MV owner Don Meinhardt and author of Standard Catalog of U.S. Military Vehicles, 2nd Edition, David Doyle.
A sea of registration numbers terminating at a couple of high-speed tractors.
The M26 "Dragon Wagon" was the largest U.S. wheeled vehicle produced during WWII.
1943 Federal 94x43 (G-513)
WWII Brockway 6-ton Bridge Erection truck
G-527 1-ton 250-gallon water trailer.
G-518 1-ton cargo trailer, standardized in 1942.
The WWII M13 trailer loaded with a searchlight made an appropriate load for one of the 2-1/2-ton CCKWs.
This field kitchen, though marked in U.S.-livery, was actually of a yet-to-determined European origin.
WWII Diamond T 4-ton Model 968.
The WWII Mobile Shop truck was completely stocked with the appropriate tools for doing in-field maintenance.
WWII vehicles make up the bulk of the MVPG collection. However, a few M-series vehicles, like this M62, are there...usually in a "working" role.
Chet Krause's freshly restored GPA made its swimming debut this weekend (see the story on "Spooner Amphibs Tread Water" elsewhere on our web site).
During the weekend, the 155mm "Long Tom," would appear in various aggressive settings.
The CCKW-based fire truck is probably one of two in existence.
The rear views at Spooner are pretty darn good too!
The event IS held at an airstrip, after all. A fire truck, water truck fuel tanker are just a few of the vehicles one would expect to see.
One of the warbirds that calls Trego "home" is this T-6 "Texan". It was built in 1941.
A glance down the flight line when the Texan and a couple of Bird Dogs were still on the ground.
Don't get me wrong, Jeeps are in attendance at Spooner too...it is just sometimes hard to see the sparkle of little diamonds in the glow of all the mounds of gold!
Marvin and Marina Dahlke live just "down the road" from Spooner. Just because they are close, though, doesn't mean that an MV event will be trouble free. They had a blow out on the left front of their M1009 on the way to the show.
Shredding a tire on a CUCV can sometimes damage the surrounding sheet metal too! Gary Rosenow was quick to volunteer a replacement fender, though.
A view of part of the Motorpool.
Another look around the Motorpool.
The WWII Diamond T is truly "in the shadow" of the MVPG's M911.
An M4 High Speed Tractor and the D4 Cat in the "tracked vehicle proving ground."
M5 High Speed Tractor on the edge of the proving ground.
Heavy equipment is the norm, not the unusual, at the Spooner Fall Party. This high-speed tractor and 155mm Long Tom were driving up and down the landing strip all weekend.
The Long Tom seemed to keep watch over the entire event.
With all the pine trees in northern Wisconsin, it was easy to imagine scenes reminiscent of 1944 Belgium.
With all that hardware, it is hard to believe there was room enough for planes to come and go! That is the MVPG's M7 snow tractor in the foreground. Buster Miller did the restoration.
John Kottke brought his M9A1 down from Hamburg, Minnesota.
If you are looking for John, watch for his dog, Baron. John will be close by (he is tucked down in the driver's seat of his rather rare International M9A1 ).
Rides ranged from Mules...
Spooner is where friends come together. Left to right, Garry Rosenow, Marvin and Marina Dahlke, Deb Rosenow and Wally Walford. AMVETs and the Boy Scouts provided the food service for the event.
Rick Colquitte's Power Wagon would be a show stopper anywhere else. The competition at the Fall Party, though, is pretty tough!
Warbirds North was a busy airport this weekend. Planes were coming and going continuously for both days.
Oh...I forgot to mention that the warbirds in attendance including a couple of helicopters as well!
Look close--there are a some T-6s flying formation over the party grounds.
Here is a better view of them.
A third bird got into the act, as well.
Another look down the runway shows some of the various planes that visited over the course of the 2-day event.
John Bizal's MKI Universal Carrier found a friend for the weekend--the MVPG's early M28.
Even Paul Viens' M20 found a friend for the weekend in Kevin Kronlund's armored car.
No one missed the surprise low-level passes by a Vietnam-era Caribou. After "buzzing" the strip a couple of times, it lowered its gear, made a landing and the pilot sat and visited for an hour or so.
No party is complete without a little swimming...but that is a story for another photo-report! Check our site for a full account of our wet and wild adventures.
The 2008 Spooner Fall Party will be held on September 5-6. Check out Army Cars USA web site, www.ArmyCarsUSA.com for updates.