Art on wheels

Classic cars, lined up for display on Saturday afternoon at the annual Bennington car show, held at Willow Park in Bennington, Vt. Photo: Holly Pelczynski

By David LaChance

For reassurance that spring is once again returning to the land, you might look to nature’s signals, such as the emergence of the crocuses and the reappearance of the songbirds. If you’re a sports fan, Opening Day is a sure signpost, even if the local baseball diamond is still hidden by snow.

Those with even the most minimal interest in automobiles will notice another marker: the emergence of collector cars from their winter hibernating places. With temperatures warming up and a couple of solid April rains to scour the steel-eating salt from the roads, these rolling pieces of history add a dash of color and interest to our winter-weary streets.

Once the older cars are out and about, car show season can’t be far behind. While some owners of collector cars are content to appreciate them in the confines of their own garages, most share a desire to bring them out into the sunshine where everyone, gearhead or not, can enjoy them.

The Berkshires and Southern Vermont boast a number of rewarding shows, beginning in springtime and continuing through our brilliant days of autumn. From Brattleboro, Vt., to Great Barrington, Mass., there are dates to mark on the calendar.

By the way, if the words “car show” conjure up visions of gleaming rows of Duesenbergs and a whiff of snobbery, you’ll want to recalibrate. These tend to be shows where anything and everything is welcomed with open arms – though you’ll certainly see the occasional Maserati and Packard, too.

It doesn’t hurt to be a gearhead at a car show, where you’ll always find a like-minded soul ready to discuss the intricacies of Holley carburetors, or the merits of basecoat-clearcoat finishes. But even if you’re not, there are still any number of ways to get a kick out of older cars. Design, cultural perspective, historical significance and good old nostalgia are all facets that add sparkle to the chrome.

Just as important for a number of car enthusiasts is the social aspect of shows.

“You meet people from every walk of life and every level of income,” said Richard Astle, treasurer of the Pittsfield Piston Poppers car club and owner of a 1957 Chevrolet. “I love the people as much as I love the cars.”

The Piston Poppers have been around a long time – since 1950, in fact. But their show this year will be in a brand-new location, at The Commons on First Street in Pittsfield, which has led to tempered expectations. Though they’ve attracted as many as 400 cars in the past, Astle said, organizers will be pleased if they draw 100 this year.

Car shows are volunteer-driven, and require lots of work to pull off. In recent years, some well established shows have fallen by the wayside – the Hildene show in Manchester, Vt., the briefly revived Chesterwood show in Stockbridge, Mass., and the Hillcrest Hospital show, among them. Still, others have risen to take their place, most notably Motorama, which takes over all of downtown North Adams, Mass., for one Sunday in August.

Car Shows in the UpCountry 2018

What follows is a list of car events that are well worth your time. A bit of advice: wear comfortable shoes, put on sunscreen and bring cash for the food vendors. A day of affordable fun awaits.

Hemmings Motor News Cruise-Ins

Dates: May 10 and 24; June 7 and 21; July 13 and 26; Aug. 9 and 23
Time: 5:30-8 p.m.
Location: 222 Main St., Bennington, Vt.
Cost: Free vehicle registration and general admission
Further information: hemmings.com/cruiseins
Every other Thursday during the summer – with the exception of National Collector Car Appreciation Day, held on a Friday – Hemmings puts on a cruise-in in the parking lot of its headquarters in Bennington. All years, makes and models are welcome; winners are featured in the pages of Hemmings Motor News.

Ioka Valley Farm Car Show

Date: Saturday, May 12
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: Ioka Valley Farm, Route 43, Hancock, Mass.
Cost: $2 general admission
Proceeds benefit Relay for Life and the Hancock Volunteer Fire Department. Anything with a motor is welcome. Rain date: Saturday, May 19.

Horsepower Meets Horse Power

Date: Sunday, June 10
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: Orleton Farm, 31 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, Mass.
Cost: Free for drivers and passengers in 1970 and older vehicles
Further information: colonialcarriage.org
Car cruise in conjunction with the 20th annual Orleton Farm Pleasure Driving Show, a judged competition for horse-drawn vehicles. Stroll the beautiful grounds, watch the driving competition, and see the collection of antique coaches and carriages in the museum. Pack a picnic lunch or purchase food there.

Father’s Day Weekend Car Show

Date: Saturday, June 16
Time: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: Vermont Veterans’ Home, 325 North St., Bennington Vt.
Cost: Free vehicle registration and general admission
Further information: Call Bob Houran at 802-384-9098
This show originated in 2010 for the enjoyment of the residents of the Vermont Veterans’ Home, though all are welcome to attend. There will be food vendors and a DJ, 60 prizes will be handed out — including one awarded by a veteran. Proceeds benefit the Veterans’ Home. Rain date is June 17.

Falls Village Car Show

Date: Sunday, July 8
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: Downtown Falls Village, Conn.
Cost: $10 vehicle registration, free general admission
Further information: “The Falls Village Car & Motorcycle Show” on Facebook or call 860-824-5861
Cars and motorcycles of all types take over the downtown of this quintessentially New England village. This show is organized with the help of the Olde Yankee Street Rods & Classic Cruisers of Great Barrington. Proceeds benefit the Falls Village Volunteer Fire Department.

Brattleboro on Wheels

Date: Saturday, July 14
Time: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Brattleboro Union High School, Brattleboro, Vt.
Cost: Free vehicle registration and general admission
Further information: “Brattleboro on Wheels” on Facebook
Hosted by Rotary of Brattleboro, this show benefits Rotary projects. Festivities begin at 8 a.m. with a pancake breakfast. Registration for a poker run, a leisurely drive through the area’s scenic back roads, begins at 8:30; the cost is $5 per wheel

Cars on the Common

Date: Saturday, July 21
Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: 100 First St., Pittsfield, Mass.
Cost: Vehicle registration $15; free general admission
Further information: Call Richard Astle at 413-329-2202 or email kuelcaat@aol.com
Sponsored by the Pittsfield Piston Poppers, one of the country’s oldest operating cra clubs. This year, the event moves to the grounds of the Pittsfield Common. Food vendors and a DJ will be present. Rain date is Sunday, July 22.

Mount Equinox Hill Climb

Date: Aug. 11-12
Time: All day
Location: 1A St. Bruno Drive, Arlington, Vt.
Cost: Entry open only to members of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America; spectators are welcome at no cost
Further information: vscca.org
Though this is not a car show per se, it gives ample opportunity to get up close to a variety of vintage competition cars and chat with their owner-drivers in the parking lot of the Mt. Equinox Toll House. Organized by the Vintage Sports Car Club of America.


Date: Sunday, Aug. 26
Time: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: Main Street, North Adams, Mass.
Cost: $15 vehicle registration, free general admission
Further information: northadamsmotorama.com
Motorama was created to give all lovers of motorized vehicles of all kinds a place to come together and show off their treasures. New for 2018 will be a free cruise-in kick off concert, held at the Noel Field Athletic Complex located on State Street, on August 25, from 5-8 p.m.

Labor Day Car Show

Date: Sunday, Sept. 2
Time: 9 a.m.–3 p.m.
Location: VFW, 800 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.
Cost: $10 for vehicle registration, $3 for spectators ($5 for two, $10 per car load)
Olde Yankee Street Rods & Classic Cruisers will present their 50th annual Labor Day Car Show. The first 200 cars will receive dash plaques. Awards include 15 top trophies with two best of show and 25 club picks.

Adirondack Nationals

Date: Thursday, Sept. 6, to Sunday, Sept. 9
Time: Thursday, 7-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-noon
Location: Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, 48 Canada St., Lake George, N.Y.
Cost: $15 for the weekend; kids 12 and under are free.
Further information: adirondacknationals.com
Presented by Albany Rods & Kustoms, this show offers over 1,500 cars, vendors, food, fun and games for the whole family. A cruise along Canada Street is featured from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Green Mountain Car Show

Date: Friday, Sept. 14-Sunday, Sept. 16
Time: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: 7012 Route 7, Pownal, Vt.
Cost: $10 vehicle registration, $5 general admission, children under 10 free
Further information: greenmountaincarshow.com
Presented by The Bennington Cruisers, this car show and swap meet offers food and games for the family. All proceeds will be donated to local charities. Thirty individual awards and a best in show will be presented.

Cops & Rodders Car Show

Date: Saturday, Sept. 29
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Location: Route 8, Washington, Mass.
Cost: $10 vehicle registration
Further information: Call Nicole Miller at 413-427-2995
Presented by the Becket Police Association, this third annual show will raise funds for the association’s annual children’s Christmas party. Music, food and a huge raffle are among the offerings. First 50 vehicle registrants get a free lunch. Rain date is Sept. 30.

David LaChance is the news editor of the Bennington Banner. He is a lifelong car enthusiast, and was formerly an editor, writer and photographer with Hemmings Motor News.

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