Weekend car shows can become our biggest tourism draw

Published 10:46 am Monday, April 3, 2017

April began with a flip of the calendar Saturday, and as soon as the calendar was flipped the first of the season’s car shows was held in downtown Elizabethton. From now until the last of October, downtown in Elizabethton will be filled with old cars and car enthusiasts each Saturday evening.

The car show has been a part of the Elizabethton scene since 1982. Hosted by the Carter County Car Club, it has been a means for the club to raise money to benefit children’s charities in the region.

There are lots of good reasons to attend the Saturday evening car shows. First, they are free, especially if you a spectator. The show is a gathering of people who drive their classic or muscle cars on a regular basis or people who just like to look at cars. For some, the event is more of a social gathering of friends.

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On occasion, awards are given in different classes or categories. The weekend show features scores of classic cars and trucks. Whether of the first or highest quality, class, or rank or serving as a standard, model or guide, most classic car owners agree that their chromed beauties, at least, meet, if not exceed the criteria of a classic car.

Most of the members of the Carter County Car Club and those who attend the weekly car shows not only enjoy the camaraderie of sharing a common interest in classic cars and trucks, but they also appreciate the opportunity to host special events and fundraisers throughout the summer to help support local children’s charities.

The club has a long history of contributing to community outreaches, past and present, such as the Salvation Army Christmas Angel Tree program, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the Carter County-Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club, and the accelerated reading program in the county schools, just to name a few

They also see their involvement as more than just a hobby — it’s a way to keep the memories alive and a way to return to a simpler place in time, if just for a time.

For these car owners, there is nothing more fun than being surrounded by the automobiles of their youth — or antique cars from their parents’ day — and hang out with those who share that special kind of love.

For these car lovers, it’s all about that first drive, that first date, that first kiss.

And that first car.

Passionate car lovers understand that. Feeling a deep attachment to a beloved automobile is not unusual and is evident at the Elizabethton Car Shows. Those who frequent these events want to be reacquainted with a time long gone. To share memories of souped-up cars, drive-in movies and restaurants . . . And first romance, some of which have lasted a lifetime.

As well as offering a bit of nostalgia, the car shows can also be an education event, as they are a great place to learn about the pitfalls and advantages of owning a particular year, make and model of car. Owners look forward to sharing details about their car and how difficult, easy or expensive the restoration was. A car show is one of the best places enthusiasts can network with other aficionados: trading restoration secrets, parts sources and opinions about what is happening in the hobby.

The downtown car shows are also a great place to meet people in the hobby as well as people in the community. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, whether about a certain make or model, some facet of restoration you’re interested in, a club you might be interested in joining or a restoration shop you’ve heard about. Car people are among the most informative, inclusive and friendly on the planet.

Many take their lawn chairs and set them up on the sidewalk, where they meet with friends and talk about everything from baseball to fishing, to the weather, and politics. It’s just a chance to get together, sit back, relax and talk about life in general.

The car shows for the most part offer good, clean fellowship and activities to which families aren’t afraid to bring their children and grandchildren.

Finally, the shows can be a means of generating business, by bringing hundreds of folks to the downtown. Many browse local stores that are open, especially the eateries. Some window shop, and come back during the week to shop for furniture and other items. We hope more of the downtown businesses will find a way to market themselves and to take advantage of the out-of-towners that attend the car shows.

Overall, the car show has been a plus for the community. It not only brings classic car owners, but spectators to the downtown. They are people who come back year after year and often bring friends with them.

The car shows can be one of our biggest assets and tourism draws, if we work it just right. We would like to see more of our downtown businesses become involved in the event.