Situated 230 miles north of Chicago, the small town of Iola, Wisconsin hosts one of the largest annual antique car shows in the country.
The three-day Iola Car Show will honor the 50th anniversary of the Camaro, Firebird and Trans-Am Series Pony Cars with a special display including the original Camaro prototype. The 45th annual installment features additional activities including celebrity appearances, concerts and giveaways.
“The show has continued to grow and grow,” said Joe Opperman, the show’s marketing director. “What used to be billed as ‘The Midwest’s Greatest Classic Car Show’ is now playing on a national scale as one of the biggest and best car shows and swap meets in America. We attract attendees and exhibitors from all 50 states, and get several attendees from overseas. Our grounds occupy 300 acres of land, and it’s truly a unique spectacle to see. To anyone interested in the hobby, this is a bucket list car event.”
In addition to a featured class for Camaros and Firebirds, some 2,500 show cars of 1990 and earlier vintage will be divided into various categories. In addition to basic Pre-War (1942 and older) and Post-War (1945-1990) classifications, a special Blue Ribbon Concours display is an invitation-only event for the finest examples of factory original-looking cars.
While there has been a tendency in the hobby to “overrestore” cars, making them look better than new, the Iola show promotes the growing popularity of conservation and preservation of original finishes. The All Original Vehicles display will consist of cars 1976 and older which retain 75% of their original paint, chrome and upholstery. There’s a class for modified cars as well, and one for drivers 25 years of age or younger, with cars that are at least 25 years old or older. New this year is a class for “Second Generation” collector cars, or neo-classics, which are newer cars with vintage styling.
Parts and collector car sales are available at the swap meet.
Iola is a family friendly event. “We’re trying to place a lot of importance in reaching and attracting the next generation of enthusiasts to the hobby,” said Opperman. “Along with some awesome kids-themed displays, we’re getting great feedback about the inclusion of some of our special guests. Bringing in TV personalities from popular auto-themed TV shows has proven to be a great attraction for teens and millennials.”
Headlining the celebrities this year is legendary drag racer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. Also scheduled are television personalities Courtney Hansen of “Overhaulin’”, Jo Coddington of “American Hot Rod”, and Dave Kindig and Kevin Schiele of “Kindigit Designs”. Live concerts on Friday and Saturday night are included with admission. A Miss Iola pinup contest is new for this year.
With 120,000 people attending, hotels are booked for miles around. Iola offers 1,600 camping spaces with room to grow. There’s even a special area for vintage campers.
Show car registration ranges from free to $15, depending on the class. The Iola Old Car Show is a non-profit organization having donated $2.5 million to 130 charities over the last ten years.
“With a quaint and picturesque backdrop in small town central Wisconsin, people comment all the time about how friendly the volunteers, show-ers and everyone is,” said Opperman. “When this hobby is at its best, it’s because of the camaraderie and brotherhood shared by those who enjoy it. We’re very proud to be a part of that.”[“Source-chicagotribune”]