Who in their right mind goes from Florida to Pennsylvania in the middle of January? This guy. Why would I leave the Sunshine State to risk battling snow, ice, and cold? For an event called Cabin Fever, that’s why.
Every year, for the past 26 years in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, an event called Cabin Fever has occurred in mid-January. The premise for this event is to showcase all kinds of cool stuff that will help cure the cabin fever you get in the wintertime while being cooped up inside. This show also has a 1/14 Semi and Heavy Equipment portion to it, which is why I was there. However, I soon discovered that’s not the only aspect to this event. They have model steam trains, hit and miss engines, steam engines, RC boats, tool vendors and manufacturers, and all kinds of neat stuff if you’re into building things. If you are any kind of a gearhead, you will love this event! Anyway, I digress—back to what this article is focused on, the 1/14 RC portion of the show.
It was hard to get an exact time frame out of anyone, but apparently the 1/14 RC portion of Cabin Fever has been going on there for somewhere between 12 and 16 years. I have known about it for several years, but had never been convinced to go up north in the middle of winter until this year. Man, have I been missing out! It is an absolute Mecca for anyone into the semi and heavy equipment segments of RC.
The hosts bring a LOT of dirt into what I would conservatively say is a 19,000+ square-foot building. A crew of diehard enthusiasts shows up early in the week and gets all the dirt laid out the way it needs to be and assembles an entire elevated road course, bridges, and pit tables. When I arrived early on Friday morning to set up my vendor booth for my Gear Jammer RC parts company, I was blown away. The work these guys put in to set up an excellent layout to drive our trucks and use our equipment on is incredible.
Not only does the facility and the setup dial it to 11, but the number of people who attend and all the stuff they bring is on another level. There were well over 100 semi-trucks in attendance and probably around 80-100 pieces of heavy equipment at least. In addition to the fact that a lot of people bring loads of cool stuff, those people are of the highest caliber. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and relaxed the whole time. Do you have any questions about someone’s rig? They will gladly tell you how they built it, what parts they used, and share any tips and tricks they discovered along the way. Are you curious about a piece of equipment and how it works? Feel free to ask—not only will it be explained, but someone will probably hand the radio over for you to try it out for yourself and see what you think of it. If you’re into this stuff but still new to it, that’s no problem. Should you have a radio issue, hydraulic snafu, or any other problems, there are people there who have tons of experience and will gladly help you get things going and teach you anything you might not know. The people are the icing on the cake that have now put this event in my “must attend” category.
Even more impressive is when you learn some of these guys scratch-built their pieces of equipment! I’m not talking about simple little pieces of equipment here, but large, 100+ pound, hydraulic, custom-designed and custom-machined one-off pieces of equipment. Beside the fact that everyone is great to hang with, there is a TON of talent amongst the group as well.
If you are into the 1/14 stuff, you need to come to this event at least once. Although I think you’ll find, like I did, that if you go once you won’t allow yourself to ever miss it again. If you are in the greater PA area, there really is no reason to miss this show. It’s super cheap to attend, the area is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and you’ll see and learn all kinds of things. If you live further away and love the 1/14 RC stuff, it is worth the trip just for that, as I can attest.
Rumor has it that it won’t only be a Friday and Saturday event next year, but that any registered drivers will get access on Thursday morning, and we’ll have the whole day to hang out and play with our toys before any general event attendees and spectators arrive on Friday. I am so excited for next year; it’s going to be hard to wait the next many months to do it all again. Cabin Fever, you are now forever in my heart.
Text and Images by Nick “RCJesus” Barber