Some of the sweetest rides in the Midwest will be making their way to Washington this weekend. The 20th Century Chevy Car Club’s 36th annual Carfest is ready to start on Saturday at the Eastside Park. The event will also feature the cruise through the streets of Washington.
“Our pre-registration is running ahead of last year,” said event chairman Dave Fry. “We’re expecting as many as 350 cars in the cruise and another 650 at the car show on Sunday. Most of them are from southern Indiana and neighboring states, but some will be coming from as far away as Texas and Florida.”
The annual event has become more like a festival than a traditional car show. “It’s a lot like the Turkey Trot or the White River Valley Anitque Show,” said club member Larry McLin. “Families get together and watch the cruise and we get a good crowd out at the park. It’s a gigantic amount of work, but we do it for the public to enjoy it.”
The annual event is true to the club’s roots, but the results might be considered unlikely. The 20th Century Car Club was formed in a pool hall in 1970 by a small group of guys who liked cool cars. “This is something that has really grown,” said McLin. “We have become the civic organization that never tried to be one.”
Cars enterred in the carfest and cruise-in pay a $15 registration fee. Most of that money goes back into the expenses for the event, but some also goes to the club’s Christmas project that helps provide gifts for over 80 needy families in the area. “We found when we had a car show we had the money to help people,” said Fry. “We have people we helped 30 years ago and now they have their lives on track and they are making donations and helping others.”
Organizers say one of the reasons the show is so popular with car buffs is the location at the Eastside Park. “Most car shows are held in parking lots,” said Fry. “The park makes it a lot more family friendly. They bring their kids and they can play. They can have picnics there.”
The club has also made is point to try and give back to the park. “In the past we would just take on projects out there,” said McLin. “Now we have a silent auction each year and raise money that goes into a foundation.”
“We have 100 items donated for the auction this year,” said Fry. “We normally manage to raise about $3,500 for the park.”
Those donated items are part of the way the community has come to embrace the car show event. Another is in prizes. “We’ll pass out 100 awards and 17 of those are special awards from area merchants.”
Registration begins at the park on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and runs until 5 p.m. The cruise begins at 5:30 p.m. and after the Cruise there will be a band playing at the park for free. Sunday will open with church services at the shelter house. Then the car show judging will start at one and wrap up with award around 3:30 p.m.
The 65-member car club has spent the last six months putting together this years event. Some of the original members of the 20th Century Car Club are still actively involved even though they are now in the 60s and 70s.
“We used to get grief about our loud and fast cars,” said McLin.
“We’re still into our cars,” added Fry. “Now, we’re also about the community and that’s what this weekend is about.”