08/09/18 — Touch a Truck returns for second year

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Touch a Truck returns for second year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 9, 2018 5:50 AM

When the Partnership for Children of Wayne County set out to host a Touch a Truck event as a fundraiser in 2017, they had no idea it would spark the interest and support it did -- from every direction.

"It was just a huge success. We never expected it to be as big of a success as it was, securing the vehicles," said Valerie Wallace, assistant executive director. "Our goal was to have about 30 vehicles. We wouldn't need the whole fairgrounds. (And then) the community rallied and started saying, hey, I've got this vehicle, we'd love to bring it out. We exceeded that goal.

"It kept growing and growing."

Sponsors stepped up, she explained, either by providing a vehicle or donations to support the effort.

They wound up with close to 90 vehicles, she said.

In response, the public, families and especially younger children -- the Partnership's target demographic -- turned out in droves.

The day of the inaugural event, there were lines waiting to get inside before the gates even opened, Wallace said.

"We still get posts on our Facebook page about how excited people were, that their kids are still talking about the event," she said. "We knew after we had done it that it was a success, and it would be something we'd want to continue to do."

Chrissy Smith, community liaison, credited the community with making the occasion a big success for children and families.

"Last year, we had around 2,000 people come through the gates and then with almost 90 exhibitors, each had a volunteer or at least one person with those vehicles," she said. "We're hoping to see an even bigger number this year."

Even the Partnership staff, which gave up a Saturday to work the event, caught the contagious excitement, Wallace said.

"Some hadn't seen a crane up close, so to get up and crawl on a crane, or seeing a helicopter land, that was exciting," she said. "And to see the kids -- some of the pictures we captured -- just sitting up on an antique firetruck, blowing the horn or sitting in a race car."

Building on that enthusiasm kept the momentum going for subsequent events.

The second annual Touch a Truck will be held on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fairgrounds, along U.S. 117 South, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The hours are extended this year to accommodate feedback about one popular aspect of the day -- the no-noise hour.

"The no-horn hour, we're extending it from 9 until 11 a.m. and will open up a little earlier this year so that children with sensitivity issues can enjoy the morning part," Wallace said.

"Some small children get frightened," Smith said. "It can be overwhelming, and the large scale of the event can be a little bit intimidating, so we want all families to feel welcome."

Another change to this year's outing will be the addition of food options as well as a larger variety of exhibitors and vendors, the woman said.

"We'll have more food trucks and food vendors -- we did have hot dogs -- this year, we're expanding those food options and assure that they're affordable food options for families," Wallace said.

Among the ones already secured are Frankie's Italian ice, Fly Dogs -- which features regular and gourmet hot dogs -- and Candyland Sweets, offering up bakery items and funnel cakes.

Area agencies also expressed interest in participating, by attending and providing information and sharing about their role in the community.

"We have allowed them to come out and bring their materials, good information for families, educational information and other fun things for children to do," Wallace said.

But the big draw, of course, will be the variety of motorized vehicles of virtually any shape, size and purpose.

"The city last year brought out a good number of vehicles," Smith said. "This year they're bringing more than six or eight. The base will be bringing some vehicles."

There will also be garbage trucks, Wallace added, some bucket trucks, and a big inflatable Smokey Bear.

"We're going to have a display, the hot car display, to show how hot it gets inside a vehicle, (provided) by Safe Kids," Wallace said. "And a tumbling bear display to show what happens when children are not restrained in a vehicle properly or what will happen if you don't install a seat belt or car seats properly."

Wayne UNC Health Care has also stepped up in a big way, the women said, bringing back their helicopter and sharing some of its services for families, such as a Body Max Index screening for adults and children, a vision screening and information on school readiness and inoculations that are necessary and required.

With less than a month to go before Touch a Truck, the organizers said they have about 70 entries confirmed. Staff is working diligently to exceed last year's numbers, with an invitation directed to the public to help accomplish that.

"We'd like more farm equipment," Smith said, expressing understanding that the season may make that problematic. "I think we also would like a boat, an RV, an ATV. These are things we don't have forms back on yet."

"We would love to have an RV and motorcycles," Wallace said, explaining that part of the hesitation sometimes stems from the five-hour commitment involved for those participating.

"But it would be a fun event for families. It's the last hurrah before kids go back to school."

Other ideas to consider contributing include inflatables, a race car -- which was very popular last year but so far, none has been confirmed for 2018 -- as well as antique cars or vehicles that have been restored. The latter do not have to be in the hands-on category, the women said.

"There are some things that aren't as safe," Smith said. "Some of these can at least be on display. They can be roped off."

Patterned after an educational event that has done well across the state, the Partnership's version is turning out to be a worthwhile fundraiser to support its programs.

"We always try to put funds that we raise back into services for children and families in our community," Wallace said. "Literacy is a big need in our county so we always try to look at the literacy needs and support that.

"Our funding has stayed stable, but sometimes we do need additional support only or funds to do some of the things that we're required to do."

Admission remains at $5 per person, with tickets available for purchase at the Partnership office, at 800 N. William St., or at the gate on the day of the event. Children under age 2 are admitted for free.

Free tickets are also being made available for those in need, courtesy of a donation by a local business sponsor.

"Jackson and Sons supplied 200 tickets for children who may not be able to join the event," Wallace said.

Goldsboro Housing Authority is also footing the bill for children and youth residing in their homes. The Partnership is working with GHA on securing transportation to the fairgrounds for those residents.

Any families in need of that option is invited to call 919-735-3371.

All ages are welcome to the Aug. 25 activity.

"There were lots of families strolling babies around," Smith said of the initial event. "Our target range is birth to 5, but I would say everyone from small children up to parents will enjoy it."

They also welcome anyone with special needs and recommend those attending consider bringing water, sunscreen, hats and visors. A towel or covering might also be helpful for sitting on the vehicles during the hottest part of the day.

For more information on Touch a Truck, visit the website, www.pfc.org.