Touch-a-Truck rolls into downtown Topeka

Get carried away: All of the kids swarm around the two cranes parked in the middle of the square. The huge cranes dwarfed the excited kids as they lined up to climb aboard the machine. 

The sixth annual Touch-a-Touch event made its way on Saturday, Sept. 1in downtown Topeka. This free event was a fun and educational way for families to spend a morning.

Thousands of kids swarmed Kansas Ave in downtown Topeka on Saturday morning. There was a crowd of eager little faces ready and excited to explore the many trucks and machines the event had to offer.

This year’s annual Touch-a-Truck event went off without a hitch. This was the events sixth year and it continues to be a hit with Topeka residents. Boys and girls of all ages were lined up to see the trucks.

The event is completely free to all, but everyone was encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to support The Harvesters Community Food Network.

    This year the event was bigger and better than ever with over 50 different trucks present, including fire trucks, garbage trucks, excavators, buses and cranes. There was something for everyone to enjoy. As the event grows, so does the attendance, this year they had over 15,000 kids come to climb aboard the huge truck and machines.

One of the most exciting machines were the two cranes brought in by Gilmore Cranes. They sat square in the middle of all of the trucks and had lines of children waiting to jump up and see the huge machines. Seven-year-old Annalee Wilson waited in line three times to sit in the biggest crane.

The purpose of the event is to give Topeka’s kids a chance to see and experience all the different utility and service trucks that help the Topeka community.

Each kid was able to experience their favorite truck up close and meet with the workers associated them. 6-year-old Stellan Perez was especially impressed with the firetruck and firefighters. His grandmother, Shelly Ballard was excited that he got to speak with the local fire fighters.

“His [Stellan’s] grandfather was an EMT and a firefighter before he was born, so he was so excited to talk with them and sit in the truck.” Ballard said.

The event started at 9:30 a.m., and immediately the block was packed with families. The kids were given a sheet of paper and if they collected 20 signatures saying they visited 20 trucks they would receive a free touch-a-truck t-shirt.

The event also featured a huge sand pile and giant tire for the kids to play with as well as an appearance by KTWU/PBS’s Bob the Builder and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Zach Snethen has been involved with  the event since the beginning and has served as the organizer for the event for the last two years. Each year his main focus has been to grow his contacts and continue to add more trucks to the event.

“The city of Topeka always has a large presence with their utility trucks, Shawnee County brings out their solid waste, trash and recycling trucks, Gilmore Crane (Corp.), they bring out two different cranes,” Snethen told the Capital Journal.

The event has become a community favorite. It gets kids involved with the community and provides free entertainment. With food trucks and face painting and other activities included during the day, it’s hard to beat this family-oriented event.

The event is a fun learning experience for kids because they can see the details of the trucks up close and they get to ask questions to see how everything works. A lot of them look up to the workers, and the workers are happy to talk to the kids and see how excited they are to learn about their jobs and the trucks. 

After six years, this event has grown more popular with the citizens of Topeka. We can look forward to what new machinery next year’s Touch-a-Truck will bring.