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Pretty Classy Cars


September 17, 2012

Pretty Classy Cars
Car Show '12 brings out the best

BENNINGTON - With hundreds of cars attracting thousands of attendees, there are quite a few reasons to enjoy the annual Bennington Car Show.

The cars on the field run the gamut of antique and classic, and there are always interesting finds at the flea market, both automotive- related and not.

And while there's now nonstop music and tractor pulls - even a Boy Scout fundraiser that allowed people the opportunity to whack a 1990s Mercury Tracer with a mallet - the event becomes a proper judged competition Sunday afternoon with varied classifications and that top prize, the best of show.

The Green Mountain Antique Car Club has organized the show portion of the event for 40 years, setting up car classifications and judging vehicles based on a points system that rewards meticulousness inside and out.

But a little mud on the undercarriage can be forgiven, according to club President Larry Barnes, who said judging begins with a clipboard and between 15 to 20 club members. "They'll start, walk down the row, look through the cars, walk down again, pick out 2nd and then 1st," Barnes said. "And if you have two that you think are 2nd, you need to eliminate one or the other. You need to find fault."

Points are broken down along 10 categories including body/coach work, paint, bright work ("That's your chrome or brass"), tires, wheels, lights, and undercarriage. The vintage makes a difference with how some items are judged. "If they're wooden wheels," Barnes said, "they should look all nice and varnished."

Originality is crucial in non-modified classes. "We dinged one guy one day... he had the wrong wire coming out of the taillight on a Model T," said Barnes. "The wrong wire coming out of the taillight: And we dinged him and he never came back."

Eying a row of brass vehicles - named for their use of brass fittings, an era that died out at about World War I - Barnes said he could go down the section "and just standing from here, I would point to one, and then I'd probably go up to the convertible for number two."

There were some 42 classes at this year's show all told, divvied between makes and era. For attendees, the attraction becomes finding those models with a special significance: The family wagon as a child or that nostalgic first car.

"There's a Galaxy 500 you have to look at," a middle-aged man giddily said over the phone to someone elsewhere at the show.

"That one's older than mine," a woman told her husband, tipped off by a slight styling cue or different taillight.

While Barnes said he was happy to see the amount of brass on the fields Saturday, he said the popularity of those original horseless carriages was on the wane. "The young people don't have the interest in cars like this.... You go down through, they have to have a Corvette, some kind of big machine."

"We're getting a lot more of the Camaros and Mustangs" in recent years, he said. "Everybody is getting muscle."

After its return to Willow Park last year, the show was mostly condensed to the park's lower fields this time around. Vendors encircled the rows of show cars, creating an easily navigable sea of classic and antique cars and trucks to view.

Saturday evening, the cars cruised downtown in an event sponsored by the Better Bennington Corp. To alleviate some walking, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce had a shuttle service running between the show and parking, and an additional downtown shuttle to a half-dozen locations around town.

In addition to a number of new sponsors this year, the Bennington Rotary Club returned with volunteers and support for the show, which constitutes one of the Rotary's largest fundraising events, benefiting the organization's educational and service projects.

While it was only discussed briefly, the residency policy also contradicts public statements that have been made recently at North Bennington meetings that a child who moves out of a district after beginning classes at a school has the right to continue attending that school for the remainder of the academic year.

The actual policy says if a family moves from a district with 60 or fewer days remaining in the academic year the family may apply to the superintendent seeking permission for the student to finish the grade at that school. If the family moves with more than 60 days remaining they are not entitled to continue attending the school. McClure said she has approved such requests near the end of the school year in her time as superintendent.

Author: Zeke Wright
Compliments of: The Bennington Banner

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