Vintage Power Wagons is gearing up for its 30th annual Power Wagon Rally in Fairfield June 5–11, 2017. The event draws attendees from around the U.S., as well as from Canada, Australia, and Europe—all of them enthusiasts of an iconic truck celebrated for its rugged design and diverse functionality.
But the rallies are not just celebrations of a classic truck—they’re also family gatherings for an array of attendees, many of whom have been coming to the event for much or all of their lives.
“Some of these folks have been to every one of them, and this is the 30th one,” says Matt Welcher, manager of Vintage Power Wagons. “You see them as a newborn and you watched them grow up. This is a family vacation that they’ve had every year.”
The rallies began in 1988, four years after Vintage Power Wagons was founded by Dave Butler. Butler’s son Jens owns the business today.
The Dodge Power Wagon line started in response to demand among World War II veterans for the type of durable truck used by American soldiers in the war. Dodge created a civilian version that mirrored the military vehicle’s capacity for maneuvering in a wide variety of terrains. The Dodge Power Wagon line of trucks continues to this day, a 70-year and counting run for the beloved brand.
Vintage Power Wagons focuses on trucks and parts made from 1940 to 1971. That golden era is well represented by the collectors who congregate in Fairfield for the rally—which happens to be the largest and longest-running Power Wagon rally in the world. Hundreds attend a week-long series of gatherings, demonstrations, and exhibitions around town, centered at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
The rallies show off some favorite local spots each year, with events at Jefferson County Cider Works, Dairy Bar, and Cedar Valley Winery, among others.
A few events on June 10 are open to the public, including the Grand Power Wagon Parade at 8:30 a.m. and an open air truck show on the square from 9 to 11 a.m..
The rally also doubles as a celebration of the Iowa landscape, with a scenic back-road drive out to Lake Darling in Brighton and a trail ride at the Phillips Farm in Fairfield. “You see people coming from all over the world, driving out to this little town in Iowa,” Welcher says.
Most of all, the rallies have thrived for three decades because the shared love of this classic truck has created an international group of families who’ve made the annual trip a part of their life story.
“Some people have never been to Disney World,” Welcher says, “But they’ve been to a Power Wagon rally every year.”
Find a full list of events and activities at vintagepowerwagons.com.