Kenworths and Peterbilts rule the day at Big Rig Expo

There were more than 45 big rigs, but what was that bird doing?

“Nani,” the mascot for Nancy and Mike Brodowy of Maximum Pump Concrete, thrilled onlookers with its antics, twirling around the cage and handlebars fronting the control panel of the pumper.

“She goes with us everywhere,” said Mike of the cockatoo. “On jobs, she’s eating breakfast with the people — a banana here, snacks there. She’s a part of the team.”

The Brodowy rig which carries its own water supply to pump on construction sites, was just one of the more than 45 rigs in varying configurations that converged at the parking lot of Vidinha Stadium, Sunday for the first Big Rig Expo.

Unfolding under clear skies and a morning filled with the sounds of trucker music, Donna Caberto said the event was a result of her boyfriend’s dream.

“He (Todd Brooks) likes trucks,” Caberto said. “But more than that, he wants to have some recognition for the work truck-drivers do on this island. There are similar expos on Maui, the Big Island and O‘ahu, but there is nothing here. Hopefully, this is the first of more.”

Caberto said that on one of their trips, there was interest from the group Hawai‘i Truckers to make a calendar featuring some of the trucks that were parked and ready for inspection.

That came from the steady stream of people who parked and set up tents under the trees lining the stadium as they ventured into the sea of rigs that were set up according to various divisions.

Among the trucks, the Kaua‘i Fire Department unveiled its new hazardous materials truck, painted red instead of yellow, like its predecessor, but gold leaf lettering clearly stating its mission in the fleet.

“The yellow one will be used on rescue and fire incidents,” Carl Teves, one of the firefighters from the Lihu‘e station where the new truck is housed, said. “This one is only a couple of months old, but it will be used for hazmat responses. It’s bigger than the older truck and it allows for more room where the chiefs can monitor the situation.”

A new truck nearby was a yellow tandem parked with its long bed raised high in the sky.

“That’s Ricky Rego’s rig,” said Stanford Lindsey, who was minding one of the county’s new refuse-hauling big rigs. “Ricky is Louie Rego’s grandson and he has resurrected the legacy of heavy equipment started by Louie.”

Another Ricky, this one only 5 years old, was quick to point out his name on the driver’s side door.

“Louie was a man ahead of his time,” Lindsey said, while recollecting how much work the Louie Rego construction company did for the county and the community.

Lindsey also had a rig being tended to by his daughter, Mana, also 5 years old.

“She’s Ricky’s cousin,” he said. “But this show is good because people need to realize just how much work truckers do on this island. They don’t just haul freight. They deliver containers of groceries to the stores, they bring fuel to the gas stations, and they even haul trash.”

Caberto said the event was geared to inform people of the role commercial truck drivers play in the island’s economy. It was also designed so the drivers from the different companies would have an opportunity to come together to discuss issues and just have some fellowship.

Throughout the event, there were keiki activities set up, trivia quizzes and a food booth.

“A lot of these drivers spend a lot of effort to keep the rigs going,” said Tim Hoxie of Kaua‘i Commercial. “This event is a good showcase for the pride they have in the work they do.”

Tim Kanahele, a driver with Kaua‘i Veterans Express for a little more than a year now, was busy shining his rig’s rims.

“I like this,” Kanahele said. “Mostly, we haul freight containers, but the boss takes care of us so I take care of the trucks.”

That pride of ownership surrounded each truck that glistened in the morning sun, many of which had names of drivers emblazoned into paint jobs.

“It’s all about thanks,” Roger Ridgley of “A Tow In Paradise,” said while keeping an eye on his latest big rig hauler that had a pickup suspended at the end of its built-in crane.

He took the opportunity to announce that Aug. 26 through Sept. 1 is designated National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

A flier promoting the event states that there are more than 3 million men and women in the United States who deliver goods by truck. The drivers log more than 200 billion miles to deliver 8 billions tons of freight each year.

“It’s time for Kaua‘i to join the celebration,” Ridgley said. “We can give an extra ‘aloha’ by letting a truck driver into the flow of traffic, or an extra meaningful ‘mahalo.’”

Ridgley said A Tow in Paradise will repeat its gesture of mahalo by offering free drinks and snacks to truck drivers during this week, and encouraged others to let professional truck drivers know how important they are to the island.

Ridgley’s rig finished second in the Double Axle judging, edged out by Godfrey Perreira of Kaua‘i Freight Service. Lindsey’s rig filled in the third place slot.

Rego’s rig was judged the Best Overall while it also finished second to Ryan Wa‘alani in the Tractor Trailer category. But Rego’s rig was given the Truckers’ Jackpot, a vote determined by the truckers themselves.

Ricky Wa‘alani topped the Oldest Truck category with a 1965 Peterbilt followed by Kaua‘i Commercial with a 1974 Kenworth. O. Thronas Trucking’s 1969 Peterbilt rounded out that class.

Ryan Rutt of Rutt’s Concrete topped the Single Axle division followed by Paik and Brodowy.

Superior Concrete, whose long extension for pouring concrete carried the American flag over the celebration, got honors in the Straight Truck judging. Aaron Bandman’s 1964 blue pumper Peterbilt was deemed the Oldest Truck in the expo.

Ryan Wa‘alani topped the Tractor Trailer category followed by Rego and Scott Aviguetero of Wa‘alani Enterprises.

Wynson Rapacon, who along with his wife Michelle, and Chad Morehead helped Brooks organize the event.

Caberto said Sunday, “The sun hasn’t even set on this event, but the truckers are already talking about the next one.”

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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