I know many of us that are nuts about cars. I recently learned that there are a lot more cars than there are drivers in the US. Automobiles hold an appeal far surpassing the convenient transportation. Beyond the utilitarian, we may see them as sculptural art, an expression of identity, opportunity for adventures. They also can be time machines for some of us getting along in years. Catching a glimpse of one built a few decades ago can instantly transport you back in time and fill your head with youthful memories. It is no wonder that what are called “antique and classic car shows” are popping up everywhere; drawing humongous crowds. If autos hold an appeal for you, you are in luck here because the Lake Champlain Region hosts several car shows throughout its summer months.
After the mud season, when the spring rains have thoroughly washed away the winter salt and sand from the roads, auto collectors begin awakening their 2 and 4-wheeled prized possessions from hibernation. Once extracted from their protective dens, hours are spent in intense loving labor; scrubbing and polishing; prepping for the summer. Often this spring cleaning will include installing a new bauble, or sparkling piece of equipment. Then begins the “social season” where auto enthusiasts of every variety gather, both owners and admirers. Some of it can be competitive as the proud owners and collectors seek trophies and awards to add to their collection, but all in all there is great camaraderie and just plain good fun.
I’ve always loved car shows with the glistening autos, great food, music and friendly people. It’s like a visual treasure hunt. You never know what you are going to see, but guaranteed you will find some very unique vintage autos, hot rods, and classics in vibrant colors and looking their finest. Often these shows are hosted by a local civic organization with assistance from a local car club. Hours of hard work, planning and coordination go into hosting these shows. Attendees and participants enjoy them so much they usually become annual events and grow in size every year.
So far this year, I believe I have attended every one in the Lake Champlain Region. Kicking off the season along the Adirondack Coast is the Adirondack History Center’s Antique and Classic Car Show held in early June. This year was their 2nd annual show and more are promised. The DaCy Meadow Farm catered this event with locally grown farm fresh food. I arrived mid-morning and found their delicious quiche the perfect brunch food. Admission was free to the Car Show and also into the adjacent Adirondack History Center Museum where I was able to catch an early view of the new exhibits for the year and climb the fire tower for a bird’s eye view of the show and surrounding community.
On Father’s Day, for 6 years now, the Keeseville Elks Lodge #2072 has hosted an annual Pig and Swig Car Show and Motorcycle Rally. The event continues to get bigger and better every year. This year approximately 100 motorcycles gathered for the ride and rally. The ride travels along the scenic Adirondack Coast to the Ticonderoga Elks Lodge and back. Once they returned, the motorcyclists joined approximately 70 antique and classic cars on display for a fantastic pork and chicken barbecue. At the end of the day trophies and awards were given to the cars and trucks acquiring the most votes. This is a show where attendees and participants are the judges. They do the voting for the winners.
In late June of this year the First Congregational Church of Crown Point hosted their 10th Annual Strawberry Festival and Car Show in the town’s Veterans Park. The park was filled with some extraordinary antique and unusual cars and trucks on display. Food and craft vendors of every variety surround the stage where live music entertained all day. Of course strawberries, shortcake, and strawberry confections of all kinds were readily available.
The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce has been sponsoring an annual car show for 22 years in the town’s Bicentennial Park. Set against a backdrop of the LaChute River and the Bicentennial Falls you could not ask for a more spectacular setting. Ticonderoga’s show is a “Super Wheels Qualifier.” Super Wheels Showdown is New England, New York and New Jersey’s Super Bowl of Car Shows where only 100 cars compete for top honors. It is held in City Hall Plaza in Boston every year. In order for any car or truck to compete at Boston, one must qualify by winning a Best of the Best award at a sanctioned car show. With a chance to head to Boston, Ticonderoga’s Car Show brings out some incredibly awesome vehicles.
Show related activities begin the day before in Ticonderoga, when some autos start arriving from hundreds of miles away. Early arrivals gather at the Ticonderoga Best Western Inn and Suites parking lot for a Community Cruise. Rather like a parade, the antique and classic cars and trucks weave from there through downtown Montcalm Street and follow a designated route to a refreshment stop. Afterward they gather in the park for special workshops, clinics, music and an early bird display. The day of the show the park is hopping with activity early as more autos arrive along with vendors, musicians, photographers, and spectators. Over 100 entries were counted this year. There is considerable hustle and bustle as everyone attempts to put on the finishing touches to their entry. Micro fiber, Windex and detailing spray all help with last minute preparations before judging.
Ticonderoga’s Car Show also offers other opportunities for competition. Children can participate in a duck race down the LaChute. A “Piston Toss” is somewhat similar to the game of horseshoes, but instead of horseshoes around a stake, competitors toss a piston into a tire.
This year I witnessed my first “Muffler Wrap.” I definitely had no idea what that was and I have to say it was not at all what I thought it might be. I think I had envisioned a muffler, a stop watch, some gift paper and cellophane tape. Ha! You actually need ear plugs for this contest. Contestants are judged by the crowd’s reaction to the sound of their mufflers while their engines are revving; the louder and throatier, the better. The contestant with the most cheers and applause wins! Seriously, cover your ears!
As the season winds down toward autumn, there is one more opportunity to get a glimpse of some of the area’s finest antique and classic cars and trucks at the 4th Annual Town of Moriah Car Show in Port Henry on Saturday, October 4th beginning at 9:00 am. Prepare to be “wowed” by some of the vehicles in attendance. It will be held at the Knights of Columbus on Main Street and come hungry! The K of C will be grilling one of their famous chicken barbecues. There will be music, raffles, and a fun loving crowd. Call 546-7852 for information.