The group I belong to, The PennsylVANia Van Council, Inc., hosts this event every year in April at the Gratz Fairgrounds in Gratz, PA. It was held April 28-30. This is a small town in central Pennsylvania which is rich in Amish traditions as well as farming and home town pride. Most of us arrived on Thursday afternoon to setup for the weekends arrivals. Stuffing of goodie bags, hanging of PA speakers, setting up of the gate area, setting up our own camps and relaxing a little before the influx of vans and vanners on Friday. Our goodie bags included plenty of samples of 303, literature and pens.
There was some rain that came overnight Saturday and into the morning to dampen things but not the spirit. The show must go on. The vans and trucks lined up for the show along the top fence of the grounds where all the passersby could see them and wish they had such cool looking rides. The judges set to the task of judging the vans which was no easy task. I myself set out to pick the Cool Rides Sponsors Choice Award as well which was also no easy task.
The awards were presented Saturday evening. The Best of Show went to Jim Fry and Donna Hart of Pennsylvania with their van White Knight. This is the second year in a row they have won with their van. It is a beautiful van with a full wrap mural depicting medieval knights and scenes. The interior is of an old castle with stain glass and wood.I chose a very clean 1967 Ford Econoline owned by Bob Alleman from Ephrata, PA for the CRO Sponsors Choice Award. He maintains this van meticulously and it never shows its age. Well deserved.Our youngest vanner award went to Pandora Downie who was only 2 weeks and 5 days old. Such a cutie. Our oldest vanner award went to Garry Kerr who beat his twin brother by 9 minutes at 65 years old.
After all of the awards were handed out and the 50/50’s were drawn I handed the mic over to my daughter’s boyfriend John. He preceded to have his son Luke call out my daughter to come to them up front. When she got there Luke asked her if she would marry them and then he handed her the box with the ring in it. John then asked Kayla what her answer was to which she cried out yes. The entire place erupted in applause and cheers. It was a great moment. There were only 4 people that knew this was going to happen and we wanted it that way. John, Luke, Wendy and I. I did not even let our group in on this so it was a surprise to everyone.
Later the band Jesse Rocks took the stage and kept everybody entertained and dancing until late night. There were some stage games that took place that were quite entertaining as well.
It was a great weekend with a great turnout and great friends from near and far. Join us next year if you happen to be in the neighborhood of Gratz, PA for The Thaw 4 at the end of April.
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