May 20 • 11:48 AM

Fun, sun, classic cars lure big crowd to Fest

Estimated 5,000 turns out for first-time event

The endless lineup of classic cars and trucks were eye candy for the estimated 5,000 people on hand. photo by Tom Wearing.

May 14, 2008
IMLAY CITY — If organizers of the first-ever Eastern Michigan Auto Fest had any doubts about how the show would be received— those thoughts were quickly erased.

Hundreds of car enthusiasts turned out beneath sunny skies and lifted hoods Saturday to view some of the finest classic cars and trucks around.

Sponsored by Imlay City Ford-Lincoln Mercury, the Auto Fest at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds featured an auction, swap meet, craft show, food vendors and a midway for manufacturers and sellers of auto-related products.

There were many familiar faces in the crowd, including Imlay City Mayor Rodney Warner, who helped collect the $5 admission fee at the gate. But others came from great distances to enjoy the event.

Among the throng of out-of-towners was Jesus Cardoso, his wife Denisse, and their two-year-old son, Alex, all of whom made the long trek from Allen Park.

"I found this show on the Internet," said Jesus. "We decided to take the trip and make a family event out of it. I'm here looking for Ford truck parts."

Still others were looking for specialty items like the handmade wooden car classics offered by Jim Fuller of Howell. The owner of Jim's Diecast Cars, Fuller has expanded his classic car line to include many other items.

"People are always wanting something new," said Fuller, "so now I'm making other wood collectibles, even scale-model pianos."

Adding to the festivities was D.J. Ron Leigh, who spun the hits of the 50s and 60s, while maintaining a lively banter with attendees.

At one point, Leigh asked how many show-goers could remember the days of 18-cent-a-gallon gas prices. A scant few nodded in recollection of the times when oil flowed freely on the world and national market.

Gas prices aside, no one seemed to mind making the drive to the event, regardless of the distance.

"We had people from all over the place," said Fair Manager Ian Kempf. "The entire show exceeded all of our expectations—particularly for a first-time event."

Kempf, who estimated the day-long turnout at 5,000 people, said more than 200 show cars were on display, with another 100 vehicles auctioned off.

"The comments have been very positive, and everyone says they want to come back next year," said Kempf.

He noted that next year's Eastern Michigan Auto Fest has already been penciled in.

"We're scheduling the show for the Saturday before Mother's Day again next year," said Kempf.

"We got a lot of help putting this together," he said. "We want to acknowlege the show committee, the volunteers and the great weather. Everything combined for a great show."

For questions or information about next year's show, contact Kempf at 810-417-0395.

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