Reality TV shows off entertaining side of life at a truckstop

Midway’s Joe Bechtold chats it up with customers in this

“All That’s Trucking” blog by Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

I’m not sure whether this will paint trucking (or the Show-Me State) in a favorable light, but from the trailer, it’s bound to be interesting.

The Midway Auto Truck Plaza off I-70 Exit 121, a family-owned venture near Columbia, Mo., will be the setting of a new Travel Channel reality TV show debuting Aug. 3.

As this May article from the Columbia Tribune reports, film crews from Leftfield Pictures, the New York-based company that films the History Channel show “Pawn Stars,” were in the area for months filming life for the show, “Truck Stop Missouri.”

Joe Bechtold, general manager of the Midway complex, says in the trailer he’ll “do anything to make money.”

Camera crews captured a Willie Nelson concert at the Midway Expo Center, “day-in-the-life-of” truckstop scenes, and events such as cow-patty bingo and lawn-mower racing.

The Travel Channel press release explains that “the center of this 12-episode, weekly half-hour docu-series is the Midway Truck Stop – a playground for truckers and tourists, located halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City on Interstate 70. In addition to being a “go-to” place for truckers who need to fuel up, grab a bite, and go, Midway is home to 12 separate businesses, from a fireworks store to a tattoo parlor. The customers come from all around the country, and include a cast of locals that have to be seen to be believed. In the special one-hour premiere event, viewers will come to know everyone from a 77 year-old granny who gets a new tattoo every birthday, to a billboard salesman who talks like Donald Trump with an Ozarks accent.”

In the special one-hour premiere, viewers meet Bechtold, who once believed he could escape his family business, but has found himself right back in the thick of it, having moved his young family back home from Australia to preserve his father’s legacy. An adventurous man with a dry sense of humor, it’s everything Joe can do to hold Midway together from one day to another. For Joe, chasing down a rouge cow and breaking up a romantic rendezvous is all in a hard day’s work – and that’s just in the parking lot.

Midway offers an amazing variety of businesses on its lot including: a hotel, a convenience store, a tattoo parlor, an antique’s mall, a fireworks store, a haunted house, an outdoor music venue, a chapel, and even a child care facility. Each week, viewers will be entertained by the diverse cast of characters who stop by Midway- from the biker grandma to the fisherman who tries to catch fish in the septic pond.

“Americans travel on the road more than ever these days. Who hasn’t stopped for a quick cuppa joe and a bite to eat, but never really looked at where you are? This place is worth a second, third… even a twelfth look!” said Fred Graver, senior VP of programming for the Travel Channel. “Travel is all about opening your eyes to unfamiliar places, but also suddenly ‘seeing’ the things we take for granted. The people at Midway are a unique slice of America, in all of its fun and crazy glory.”

This article in “Inside Columbia” magazine offers some behind-the-scenes information on the shooting, including how the producers were attracted by Bechtold’s charm, and questions about just how “real” reality TV is.

If the trailer below is any indication, real or not, “Truck Stop Missouri” will certainly give viewers a new perspective on truckstop life. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains to be seen:

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