Once upon a time, local car shows provided classic car enthusiasts the best opportunity to get together and admire each other’s rides, share some laughs, and talk about all things auto-related. They still do, of course. But as no-cost-to-participate weekly cars-and-coffee events grow in popularity, the traditional (annual, planned, awards given) local car show seems to have paid a price.
How do we know? You said so yourselves. We asked our Facebook community, “What’s your favorite local car show,” and a bunch of you professed your love for cars and coffee.
Curt Curtiss nominated Nashville Cars and Coffee in Franklin, Tenn., which is held every Saturday from 8–10:30 a.m., adding, “The first Saturday of the month is Exotic Day, with up to 1,200 cars.” Mark Matthew Nelson followed suit, picking Wisconsin’s weekly Lake Mills Cars & Coffee as his favorite local car show. For Richard Baugh, it’s the monthly Pistons on the Square get-together in Georgetown, Texas. And there were a lot more.
Hey, we love cars and coffee, too. In fact, Hagerty holds a “Cars and Caffeine” event every Friday morning during the summer months at our headquarters in Traverse City, Mich. But we also look forward to participating in the National Cherry Festival Old Town Car Show held every July. So what gives?
“I kind of got turned off on the local shows because too many times the local car club or owners stack the deck to keep the awards at home,” Michael Neal wrote. “It ends up being nothing more than a money grab from the out-of-towners. I do enjoy seeing the cars, so I may just start going as a spectator. Cheaper and much less disappointment.”
Phillip Lamb agreed, but he painted with a thinner brush. “When I was doing Rod Runs a long time back, it was obvious that it (money grab) happened at different shows. But there were other local shows that were fun to go to and be with friends. I don’t own (a classic car) anymore, but I will walk around car shows and admire the work some people do.”
Zack Dillinger, owner of a 1939 Packard, said he’s just tired of seeing the same cars at local shows. “The typical small-town local show is of very little interest to me (one can only look at so many chromed-out tri-five Chevys), so I don’t go often.” But Zack does like “anything at the Gilmore Car Museum,” as well as June’s Celebrate Charlotte Festival Car Show in downtown Charlotte, Mich., which he believes “keeps getting better.”
To our great relief, we also heard from plenty of traditionalists who look forward to their annual local car show. Here are some of your favorites:
Jim Larson: “EyesOn Design Car Show in Grosse Pointe, Mich., always held on Father’s Day. It’s a Henry Ford charity show and benefits the blind. In the past several years, I’ve enjoyed going as a spectator, participant, and a show car marshal.”
Bonnie Push Kershaw: “Wheels for Wellness in Fort Worth, Texas, every September. It used to be called Cruisin’ for a Cure. The city blocks off nearly the entire downtown area, and participation is great, over 500 cars every year.”
Tom Sweeney: “The Coatesville Invitational Vintage Grand Prix in Coatesville, Pa., coming up Sept. 23. It's amazing seeing all the cool old race cars and motorcycles.”
Steve Null: “Tipp City, Ohio, Mum Festival Cruise-In on Sept. 22. Each year there are 800 to 900 cars; the entire downtown is blocked off. It’s an awesome show; I’m there every year in my T-Bird!”’
Dave Sanders: “Texas All British Car Days (Sept. 22–24). It’s an all-weekend event with a rally, dinner, and multiple fun things to do.”
Chuck Sulik: “Automation Festival in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. The May event attracts 1,000-plus classic cars. We used to do burnouts while staging for the cruise on Saturday night.”
Tom Johnson: “The Motor Muster, Aug. 26, held in conjunction with the Sweet Corn Festival in downtown Urbana, Illinois.”
Roger Tilley: “Back to the Bricks (Aug. 15-19) in Flint, Mich. It has over 25,000 cars and trucks, between the three-day rolling cruise and the main parking cruise in downtown Flint.”
Chris Breeden: “Coker Tire Chattanooga (Tenn.) Cruise-In in April. One of the best shows I’ve ever been to. Also, the Redneck Rumble in Lebanon, Tenn. (Sept. 15-16), is a blast!”
Robert Chaulk: “Hickman Automotive Group’s annual car show (July) in St. John’s, (Newfoundland and Labrador), Canada – 22 years running.”
Rick Davidoski: “Daytona (Fla.) Turkey Run, Thanksgiving weekend.” (Curt Curtiss added, “This event rocks!”)
Jim Hiner: “Rolling Sculpture Car Show on July 14 in Ann Arbor, Mich.”
David Combs: “The Old School Reunion in the Seattle area (June). Pre-1988 Japanese and European cars only!”
Kathy and Ed Hodgson: “Autofest in Frankenmuth, Mich., Sept. 8-10. Three days of great cars, good people, good food...good times!
Andy Webster: “Iola (Wisconsin) Car Show in July—2,220 cars. (It was crazy this year; we were hit with rain/hail and high winds.)”
Zach Smiley: “Cinco DeMopar (May) in Lafayette—Indiana’s largest all-Mopar show!”
Ken Williams: “Adirondack Nationals (September) on Lake George in upstate New York. The best small-town car show.”
Rob Roush: “Charleston (West Virginia) Doo Wop and Rod Run in October.”
Jack Dingman: “I can’t really call it local, but I always loved going to Hot August Nights in Reno/Sparks with my dad.” Lucky for you, Jack, a guy named Mike Hagerty also nominated the show, and that last name carries some weight around here.