My first visit to the Mid-America Trucking Show: The truckers’ trucking conference

From official FMSCA policy updates to nostalgic trucking merchandise and a big rig beauty contest, the Mid-America Trucking Show featured the latest in tech and innovation, and of course trucks, trucks, trucks.

My first visit to the Mid-America Trucking Show:  The truckers’ trucking conference

By Katie Parsons | The Inside Lane

Editor's note: Hey Insiders! My colleague Katie Parsons had the chance to dive into all things trucking at MATS 2024 and I asked her to share her observations here with all of you. Buckle up and let's get to it!

I admit it: I’m a Mid-America Trucking Show newbie. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Bianca assigned me this conference but I walked away with a lot more industry knowledge and a long list of future story ideas.

To start, I was surprised as I walked across the vast parking lot towards the venue to see many families with strollers and wagons in tow walking into the exhibition hall. Once inside, however, it was pretty clear why they would want to be there: So. Many. Trucks.

Within the first few minutes of stepping foot into the venue, it became clear to me that this was not just a trucking conference about high-level insights and future technology: it was a trucker (and family) friendly conference.

This isn’t to say that thought leadership and progressive tech weren’t part of the show’s landscape – but there was a tangible, accessible, culture-driven vibe to the conference that seemed to hit the mark with attendees (myself included) that focused on nostalgia, the future and fun.

Did you attend MATS 2024? I’d love to hear your insight if so. Email me at

Didn’t make it to Louisville? Here’s a look at what I found the most engaging when I attended.

The Trucks

This may seem like an obvious observation for a trucking conference – but the sheer focus on the actual reason for the gathering was overwhelming. There were over 160 actual trucks on display inside and outside of the Kentucky Exposition Center – spanning decades in their manufacture and use.

There was even a contest for the trucks on site: The 33rd annual PKY Truck Beauty Championship. There were several categories of winners, but the People’s Choice Award (a huge honor, I’m told) was awarded to Jeff Hoker's 2023 Peterbilt 389 and 2023 Great Dane van.

For a full list of winners, check out Overdrive’s coverage of The PKY Truck Beauty Championship.

Custom truck builders were also honored at the event – with four of them facing off in the Big Rig Build-Off competition. A panel of judges evaluated the trucks based on creativity, craftsmanship and overall execution. Brian and Thomas Davis of Davis Brothers Designs being named the winner of the Big Rig Build-Off.

And if spending time around all of these big rigs wasn’t enough – there were several vendors on hand with collectible and model truck sets for sale, including ToyTruckCity and Burnett Farm Toys. I saw a few young (and grown) kids leaving with their purchases happily tucked under their arms.


The Tech

The show featured a wide range of innovative accessories and add-ons for trucks, aimed at improving driver comfort and convenience. From advanced trucking GPS systems to ergonomic seats and sleeper cab designs, companies showcased products designed to enhance the driver experience.

One brand that really stood out to me was Truck Parking Club. Their space had a few interactive games for attendees, including one that featured red solo cups and reminded me of a game I used to play in college. But I digress – Truck Parking Club is one of the many trucker-friendly companies that was showing what it can offer to fleet companies and individual owner-operators. Additionally, the company connects landowners willing to lease space to truckers for parking, dubbing itself the “Airbnb of truck parking.”

To learn more about Truck Parking Club, check out CEO Evan Shelley’s interview with the TalkCDL podcast.

The Truck Parking Club

The Insight

The Pro Talks Seminar Series featured a variety of experts discussing some of the industry’s most pressing issues. It kicked off with FMSCA’s director of the Office of Registration and Safety Information Kenneth Riddle discussing a modernized registration system designed to prevent fraud. The system would strengthen business verification tools to weed out fake or fraudulent operators.

The FMSCA was back on Friday with another information session that centered on its key programs and policies. FMSCA’s Acting Deputy Administrator Sue Lawless spoke about some of the most pressing issues on the docket, including the automatic emergency brakes (AEB) mandate, the safe integration of automated driving systems, and transparency in broker transactions.

Other highlights for me from the seminar series included:

  • How to Attract, Recruit, Retain and Manage Gen Z for your Driving Workforce, presented by Next Generation in Trucking Association
  • Road to Relief: Ease Pain & Boost Mobility in Minutes a Day by Mother Trucker Yoga
  • Trucking Through the Lens of a Professional Photographer by Sisters of the Road

What I liked about the seminar series was that there was a nice mix of sponsored sessions, with balanced information and panels, with organizations and thought leadership sessions not tied to a sponsor specifically.

Learn more about the Sisters of the Road photo series from UberFrieght.

Bonus: The Merch & The Food

From trucker hats to sunglasses to statement T-shirts to detachable seat massagers, there was something for every trucker and trucking lifestyle fan.

The food court was also a hot spot for attendees. I opted for fried catfish and hush puppies but there were other options, like the Cattleman’s Association and Kentucky’s own Papa Murphy’s pizza.

MATS 2024 did not disappoint and I hope to take Bianca back with me there next year. Who knows? Maybe The Inside Lane will have its own swag or pro series talk to add to the conference guide.

What was your favorite part of the Mid America Trucking Show? Send an email to the editor at

Katie Parsons is an editor for The Inside Lane. You can email her at

Have a question or comment about this article? Email Bianca Prieto at

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