JUNE 23, 2014: ATTENTION CAR GUYS–PETULA CLARK WAS RIGHT ABOUT ‘DOWNTOWN’

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British songstress Petula Clark hit the top of the charts in the mid-60s with her famous song about the bright lights and appeal of the downtown area.

 

The song was appropriately named ‘Downtown’ and it was a mega-hit at the time.

 

 

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We attend many shows in smaller communities where the local car guys host their events smack-dab in the middle of their downtown and we love the idea.

 

In fact, we have written a few complimentary articles about the inherent appeal of a downtown car show.

 

Typically the architecture on Main Street in small towns has not changed very much and is very similar to the past when many of the old rides were brand new rides.

 

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The blend of old vehicles and old buildings is something that provides some of the greatest photo opportunities available to us during every car show season. The atmosphere is better and people like an opportunity to step back in time at a downtown car show.

 

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The only problem is a few local towns in our area have decided to move the shows from the downtown core to the nearest convenient street or parking lot over the past few years.

 

We discovered that very fact recently when we attended a local small town show about a half hour away.

 

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We always looked forward to their show every year because their town has one of the nicest downtown cores on our radar.

 

If that wasn’t enough, they had a park area just off Main Street where a collection of vintage Jeeps, including actual WWII and Korean War Jeeps among the honored guests. Their past shows had it all-and then we arrived for this year’s edition.

 

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We discovered a large change in plans and suddenly one of our favorite shows became a big disappointment because they shuffled the cars off Main Street and moved them over a few blocks.

 

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The scenic downtown area on Main Street was occupied by a few random booths, similar to a farmer’s market, with a scarce and puzzling collection of vendors in the space formerly occupied by classic old rides.

 

We found one row of vintage rides right next to a construction area that is completely bare and unattractive with no buildings, let alone some of the stylish architecture found on Main Street.

 

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There were some great stories to be found at the show and they will have to compensate for the desolate photo background of some of the vehicles in the stories.

 

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The move appeared to cost the show many attendees because there were considerably fewer vehicles than past shows held in the downtown core, plus there was a much smaller crowd on onlookers at the show.

 

We would expect the show will continue to shrink in size if the experience of other towns that made a similar move is any indication.

 

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There is something magic about the energy and atmosphere found at a show in the downtown area of a smaller community where decades-old architecture still dominates the picture.

 

There is something much less magic when the show gets ejected out of downtown.

 

Jim Sutherland

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