Car club hopes compromise will save popular car shows

Published 4:30 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
By Angela Cutrer
Elizabethton Star
In the hopes to find a compromise between the city of Elizabethton and the Carter County Car Club Cruise-In, the club’s president wrote a letter addressed to the city offering to no longer hold the Cruise-In event in April.
“It tends to rain a lot in April, so the club wouldn’t mind not having the event during that month,” said Angie Odom, who serves as director and founder of the TLC Community Center. Odom is an honorary member of the club, which she has been helping with its communication needs.
The Carter County Car Club has staged a weekly event in downtown Elizabethton each Saturday evening from April through October since 2011. In addition to that, the club also hosts an annual day-long event, which is scheduled this year for July 8 from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. This event would require the closure of the 400 block of East Street, followed by normal procedures of the weekly car show format from 5-9 p.m.
“We certainly don’t want to change the car show because it paints a positive picture for our area,” Odom added. “So many people attend and all the money the event earns goes to local childrens’ charities. Plus, the car club is what built the upgrades to downtown, like the restrooms, which are free for everyone to use, and the new P.A. system.”
The city bathroom was built by club volunteers with donations raised by the club. The club itself donated $1,012 to buy the block and the cost for the construction and permits totaled $80,800. Those bathrooms are open 24-7 to all. Public bathrooms were not available before the club’s actions.
The club purchased and installed the amp, wires and speakers for the downtown P.A. system at a cost of $4,000. Club members maintain the system free of charge.
Back in 2006, the club purchased and donated $6,000 in large street barriers to the city. These barriers are the type to control crowds and traffic for such things as parades and other events.
The car club submitted the letter to the city council subsequent to their original special event request, which removed the month of April from the request. This left the requested dates and times for this year as follows:
  • Weekly from May 6 to Oct. 28 every Saturday from 5-9 p.m.
  • Annual Car Show Saturday to be held July 8 from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Financial impact: $4,581.11 in increased overtime costs in police, street and sanitation.
The letter to the council, signed by Tom Franklin, explained that the club doesn’t get rich off its car events. “We get no money – not one penny,” Franklin said. “Every penny goes to the children of Carter County and Elizabethton.
“Everyone knows what the club does with its car show, but most people don’t know what happens behind the scenes. In all, the car club has given $205,000 to the needs of the children of this city and county in the last 11 years.
“It was the car club that paid for the $75,000 for the new restrooms. And the car show helps local businesses. I’ve had people come to me and say if the show isn’t going to be here anymore, they will pack up and move somewhere else. They simply can’t keep their business going without that stream of visitors.
“I don’t think you could find any other group that does what the car club does: Offer four hours of good, safe family time for visitors and residents. We have visitors from Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina and North Carolina, and they tend to come four or five times a year for events. That’s people eating in town and staying locally. That’s money coming in to help local businesses.”
Franklin’s letter explained the donations that came from past car shows. They include the following:
  • 2011 – $14,300
  • 2012 – $16,450
  • 2013 – $15,000
  • 2014 – $13,000
  • 2015 – $10,500
  • 2016 – $10,500
  • 2017 – $15,500
  • 2018 – $16,000
  • 2019 – $16,000
  • 2020 – $21,900
  • 2021 – $26,368
  • 2022 – $30,300
Total donations: $205,818
Not having the car show in April means the charities will lose about $4,000, Franklin’s letter explained. “We don’t push for money from the car owners,” he said of the money freely given to the club. “We have a tent set up that shows where the money goes and if they want to make a donation, they do. And we give every penny away.
“I believe more people want the club’s activities to continue than are dissatisfied. All we want is unity with the city to continue to help our businesses and our children.”
On Thursday, the city council will discuss the issue and vote on keeping the car show or not approving the club’s future shows.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox