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Antique & Classic Car Show Returning to Willow Park This Year


August 26, 2011

BENNINGTON - The car show is coming back to town. After six years in Pownal at the former Green Mountain Race Track, next month's Bennington Antique and Classic Car Show (the 45th iteration) will make its return to the town of Bennington. The car show, swap meet, and various ancillary events will take place Sept. 16-18 at and around Willow Park.

A changed location - but not a new one, organizers are quick to point out. "We've all been to Willow Park before," said event organizer Lindy Lynch. "It's bringing it back home."

As long-time organizers and participants know, previous to its stint in Pownal, the car show occupied Willow Park for 18 years. Adjoining property, then owned by Bijur Lubrication Corp., was also used.

After the 2004 show, those fields, now owned by Vermont Composites, were sold and developed. The car show, for lack of space, moved to Pownal in 2005. Organizers expected it to be a temporary stay lasting only a year. The venue, with its expanse of flat pavement, received generally positive reviews, although some went on record as being displeased with the event's move from its titular town. Lynch said organizers received "lots of complaints and grumblings," as Bennington hotels and businesses felt a lesser impact from the show.

The Pownal track also required rent, whereas the town's park is available free charge.

"The bottom line is," said Lynch, "it is a fundraiser, but it's also an economic development engine. ... We hope to have Bennington packed." Lynch said that this year's event would utilize all of Willow Park and also spill over to adjoining landowners, all of whom are on board and in support of the venture, she said. Primarily a Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce- led affair, the event is also sponsored this year by the Bennington Rotary, Green Mountain Car Club, Hemmings Motor News, and People's United Bank, among others.

This year's main entrance will be through a south gate behind Nemer Chevrolet, off of Kocher Drive. The Nemer parking lot will contain some flea market vendors, and the dealership will also host Friday night's opening reception. Grace Christian School will host vendors indoors, while both the school and Vermont Composites will allow for visitor and volunteer parking.

Additional attendee parking will be at NSK Steering Systems and south on Park Street. Inside Willow Park to the southwest will be the remainder of the flea market. Tractor pulls will be located just south of FW Webb. At the Jim Ross Pavilion, centrally located in the park, food will be provided by the NorShaft Lions and Bennington Rotary, while Madison Brewing Company will supply the drinks.

Across from the pavilion, Lynch said, will be a Hemmings popcorn truck and live NASCAR broadcasts.

"As you travel up, you'll trickle through the show cars," said Lynch, the cars organized by vintage.

In addition to the south gate of the show will also be an East Road entrance, opposite the southern Shields Drive, and a third entrance off the Upper Pavilion parking lot.

While the emphasis remains on the classics, organizers will allow present-day show vehicles for the first time this year. A "personalized cars 1986-present" will allow those with newer steeds to enter. Lynch said the class was for anyone with a "cool, new car," such as electric vehicles.

As in past Willow Park shows, organizers plan to have a shuttle running through the weekend to ferry attendees between the show, parking, and perhaps other attractions like downtown or the 18th annual Bennington Quiltfest, held the same weekend as the car show at Mount Anthony Union High School.

During the show there will be additional attractions and activities for children, located at the park's playground, including a bouncy house and face-painting.

Music will also be playing in the park on two stages located at the volleyball courts and Upper Pavilion.

A Saturday night downtown cruise-in will be sponsored by the Better Bennington Corp. Returned to Bennington, organizers are hoping for a banner year. "We're very excited," Lynch said, for a "bigger and better" show courtesy of reaching out to all age groups and the added entertainment. While some remember torrential downpours at Willow Park in 2004, Lynch said she wasn't worried.

"It is what it is," she said. "Wear your boots," in case of rain.

Author: Zeke Wright
Compliments of: The Bennington Banner

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