When the participants in the 17th annual Brockway Truck Show rolled into position on Saturday morning, they brought with them all the sights and sounds the highly-anticipated event has come to embody.
Residents and truck aficionados know the story of how a man named George A. Brockway took over his father, William’s, business in 1889 and in 1909 transformed it into a manufacturer of one of the most popular trucks in the world until the Cortland plant closed in 1977.
The legacy of the Brockway Motor Truck Co. and the mark it left on the community is something residents in Cortland County and surrounding area still take pride in today, nearly 40 years later.
But as much as the Brockway Truck Show is a chance for friends and family to come together and celebrate that history, it also serves as a reminder that the work done almost four decades ago means just as much to people from outside of the community.
Near the intersection of Main Street and Clinton Avenue, George Tackaberry was about to enjoy a cool beverage after parking the four Brockway trucks he brought with him from Athens, Ontario.
Just one noteworthy truck among his small fleet was a Brockway 361, built in 1971, nicknamed “The Mountaineer.” It was the truck used to deliver the Christmas tree to the White House in 2007.
As the owner of over 200 vehicles, the Brockways Tackaberry owns may only be a small part of his collection, but he said they’re among the best.
“We knew a guy and we just bought one — then we bought (numbers) two and three,” he said. “They’re well-made trucks.”
Tackaberry said he and his family have made the nearly three-hour ride to Cortland to be part of the truck show more times than he could remember, and it’s all of the people he gets to meet and reconnect with that keep him coming back.
Also attending this years event were Chad and Jody Crawford, who drove their Brockway 358 flatbed roughly five hours to Cortland from Marydel, Delaware, to be a part of the truck show for their fifth time.
Chad Crawford said he remembers being a kid when his father and grandfather purchased a 1976 Brockway 761 to use for work. He said the word “Brockway” reminds him of his childhood, his family, and, of course one of toughest trucks ever built.
Jody Crawford said when she thinks of Brockway, she is brought back to her childhood in a different way. Having grown up in a family full of truck drivers and enthusiasts, coming to Cortland feels like a sort of reunion.
“(I think of) this weekend,” she said. “Just the camaraderie, coming together and enjoying the history of the trucks and the people that you’ve made friends with along the way.”
Joe Metzger and his two sons, Mathew and Benjamin, came to the truck show by way of Shelby, Ohio, as members of the Ohio State Tractor Pullers Association. The family brought their souped-up 1974 Brockway Husky 459, but long time fans of the motorsport might know it as the “Brockasaurus.”
Joe Metzger said he’s been pulling the truck for 10 years since he found it in Penn Yan with a tree growing through it. Now, the truck is painted and decorated to make the cab resemble a snarling reptile. Matthew Metzger said this particular Brockway is one of the highest ranking trucks in the nation.
Joe Metzger said the Brockway Truck Preservation Association has invited him to the truck show in the past, but this is the first time he and his family have come to Cortland.
“They’ve been wanting us to come every year, but we’re always at a pull somewhere,” he said. “So we made it a point to try to make it up this year.”
Mathew Metzger said his dad’s truck is the only Brockway they know of in Shelby, so when he and his family came into town early Friday morning, they didn’t realize how serious people in Cortland take their Brockway trucks.
“We had no idea,” Joe Metzger added. “At 7:30 in the morning there was four trucks and I thought we drove almost seven hours up here and there’s four trucks? I went to sleep for a couple of hours and woke up and a bunch of people started showing up.”
Metzger said he’s since been connecting with Brockway owners and fans, and judging by the crowd of people who surrounded the Brockasaurus to chat with him and his sons, it seems they were well received.
Now the Metzgers know what Cortland and the Brockway truck show are all about. When Benjamin Metzger was asked if he was having a good time, his face said it all –– but he said what he was thinking anyway.
“I think this is awesome,” he said. “I’d definitely come back.”
“Yeah, we’ll come back,” Joe Metzger agreed.