Three’s a charm for Lakeside Touch-A-Truck

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The third annual Touch-A-Truck Lakeside Edition is now one for the books.

The popular local event was held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. While the attendance had yet to be tallied at press time, estimates put the number at about 1,700 people, somewhat higher than last year.

The third annual Touch-A-Truck Lakeside Edition is now one for the books.

The popular local event was held from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16. While the attendance had yet to be tallied at press time, estimates put the number at about 1,700 people, somewhat higher than last year.

This year’s family event boasted a new location, one that seemed to entice more folks to attend. The large vacant lot at 11600 Riverside Drive was transformed into a vehicle wonderland early Sunday morning. There was plenty of on-site parking and easier access to those very large trucks everyone came to see. Instead of a long line of vehicles parked down the street, as has been the case for the past two years on Vigilante Road, the trucks served as an outer perimeter, with the inner circle for business and community displays, as well as seating for food and rest. The layout seemed to work well for attendees.

The Lakeside Chamber of Commerce once again sponsored the event, along with the San Diego East County Economic Development Council. Touch-A-Truck was established to highlight the local construction, industrial and trucking industries. Chamber President and CEO Kathy Kassel explained further:

“We want to focus on career pathways for our youth,” she said at the event. “All these industries are having workforce issues. This (Touch-A-Truck) is a way to create enthusiasm and awareness in our local youth.”

It is also a fun way to spend a warm Sunday in Lakeside.

Though the “doors” opened at 11:00 a.m., many had arrived early and were roaming the site when a cacophony of truck horns sounded the day’s official start.

Sponsors were on hand to answer questions and explain the big vehicles.

The most popular? According to Kassel, it is hard to say, but dump trucks tend to garner the biggest crowds for some reason. But no truck was lacking for attention. Getting up close and personal with those large rigs is a rare and exhilarating experience, which is part of the draw. Children excitedly led their parents from one giant truck to another amid the blaring air horns and warm temperatures.

Participants included a wide variety of groups and organizations. The local fire companies were well represented, from Barona to CalFire to the Lakeside Fire District. Several ladder trucks were fully extended and reached high into the sky. The Sheriff’s Department showed off one of its cool SWAT vehicles. Bob’s Crane Service displayed a couple of its large equipment. The Hanson Aggregates company brought in two of their huge trucks – the two largest trucks at the event.

Project Cornerstone taught kids how concrete is made with some hands-on fun involving sand, rocks, water and forms. Cornerstone is a grassroots organization educating the public about construction aggregate resources. The project serves to support these industries through education and enlightenment.

Local booths included local groups such as the Friends of the Lakeside Library, the Ladies of Lakeside Royalty, and the Barona Museum and Community Center. Newer organizations were also attended, like the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation out of Encinitas, sharing ideas about recycling and composting.

An organization new to the event and the area was Associated General Contractors of America. Their timing could not have been better. AGCoffers practical on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction. The duration of the program is between two-to-four years, depending upon the craft. Apprentices who graduate are awarded certificates. AGC is now constructing a 40,000 square foot building on Mast just west of Riverford that will become a training facility. Executive Glenn Hillegas and Instructor Jon Hill were excited to be part of Touch-A-Truck this year.

Other fun included a hay ride (with an old tractor driven by Frank Hilliker of Hilliker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs) and a number of fun farm animals brought in by the Manzanita 4-H Club. A variety of food and drink rounded out the participants.

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