GBATS postpones in-person show until September 2021

July 13, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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As the number of cases of coronavirus surges nationwide, organizers of the Guilty By Association Truck Show in Joplin say they will postpone the in-person show that was slated for September until 2021.

Bryan Martin, president of 4 State Trucks and the organizer of GBATS, announced the show’s postponement via a video announcement on the 4 State Trucks Facebook page on Monday, July 13. The show had been planned for Sept. 24-26.

“When we look at GBATS, all of you, all of us, we expect full-throttle, action-packed, big-time fun weekend,” Martin said. “Unfortunately, this pandemic climate that we’re all being subjected to and all living in right now would greatly alter the event.”

Postponing GBATS

The first GBATS was in 2009, and 38 trucks attended. The most recent edition of the show in 2018 included 693 trucks and had about 15,000 people in attendance. In 2019, Martin announced that the show would be moving to a biennial format.

While the in-person event has been postponed until next September, Martin said 4 State Trucks will host a special Facebook Live event on Friday, Sept. 25. He said the event will include truck walk-arounds, interviews, vendor spotlights and a walking tour of 4 State Trucks. Martin says there also will be interactive contests with “substantial prizes,” as well as a parts giveaway, and a super sale to benefit Special Olympics of Southwest Missouri.

Martin says the decision to reschedule the show has the support of his staff, sponsors and exhibitors. One of those show sponsors is the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“We’re disappointed that GBATS inevitably had to be postponed to 2021, simply because we were looking forward to it much like all of our members,” OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer said. “It’s an event we are proud to partner with 4 State Trucks and can appreciate that in these uncertain times caution dictated holding off for a year before we all get back together in Joplin.”

In the video, Martin said the headline act for the show, country music artist Rodney Atkins, canceled his appearance due to coronavirus concerns. He said that 4 State Trucks is already implementing social distancing at the shop, including limiting the number of people allowed in the store at one time.

“Try to imagine a GBATS with no diesel drag races,” he said. “How about no truck and tractor pull? No burnouts. No big-time, Saturday night concert where there’s 4,500 of us standing shoulder to shoulder under the street lights in downtown Joplin.”

Martin said the biggest concern is making sure that attendees and staff stay safe and healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My brother Brice, myself, the whole team, we’d just feel terrible if 4 people left here and contracted COVID-19 … So rather than tarnish the event by having to downplay several activities, we’re going to push it out one year … September 2021, GBATS is going to be back, bigger, badder, and more action and excitement than ever.

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.