PEORIA — The rows of semitrailers gleamed under the otherwise clinical fluorescent exhibit hall lights, custom paint jobs waxed to a mirror finish and chrome trim polished to a high shine.
At close distance — inches instead of yards or miles — and much slower relative speed — stationary, approached only as quickly as one can walk, rather than observed as a highway blur — the immensity of the machines and their intricate details become apparent.
And that's one of the main goals of the Mid-West Truck and Trailer Show that wrapped up this weekend at the Peoria Civic Center.
"It's a great experience for people to come and get close to the big trucks they see out on the highway," said Matt Wells, an organizer of the event with Mid-West Truckers Association, which also held its 55th annual convention in conjunction with the show.
As one would expect for such an event, the trade-show component featured specialized equipment and services for truck drivers accustomed to hauling freight varying distances, from across town to across the country.
That's why Jim Hanson, an over-the-road trucker whose route brought him through Peoria during the show on Friday, parked his rig long enough to peruse what aisles of vendors had to offer — some accented with sparkling metal gear for sale, others plain and informational, such as a series of state agencies involved in transportation regulations.
"I definitely learned the most there," Hanson said, referring to representatives from enforcement entities including the Illinois Department of Commerce. "Sometimes you follow rules just because you have to, but now I know a little bit more about why some rules are there."
For those not involved with big rigs as part of their livelihood, the massive diesel engines and customized bodies on display around booths for insurance and tailor-made fuel tanks still proved an attraction.
The array of vintage work trucks and modern semi cabs stretched across eras of style and function, from 1925 to state-of-the-art 2017 trucks with a mixture of digital and mechanical technology.
"We want people to come see, learn and experience trucks," Wells said. "They are amazing machines, from everyday work trucks to some of the best show trucks in the nation."
Matt Buedel can be reached at 686-3154 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JournoBuedel.