Open Road

What many car shows are lacking

Consider the family.

I have been a self-proclaimed "Car Nut" since my preteen years. But, it wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I was actually able to go to any car shows. So, you can imagine that I was pumped those first few times to see what I had read about in magazines and seen on television (that was after all the pre-internet age) – the pristine restorations, the custom vehicles, the muscle cars, the pre-war cars, the occasional exotic vehicles, and the oddball vehicles too!

I was let down though. The car shows I started going to were put on by the local car clubs, churches, or fire departments. Yes, I did get to see a few of those vehicles I was chomping at the bit to see. But, for the most part the shows were just a few acres of parking lot to walk through with some shiny vehicles, a loud DJ busting tunes, maybe some face painting for kids, and typically a raffle or two. Oh yeah, each show had an obligatory trophy presentation too!

Those things aren't bad things for a car show. The problem was I would typically go through the aisles of cars quickly, taking 200-300 pictures, shake a few hands with the car owners, ask a few questions, and leave. So, I would be there an hour, or maybe two. Also, I would bring my family with me and I was therefore keenly aware that my kids would get bored or fussy quickly if there weren't more activities for them to participate in - face painting and a clown making balloons only go so far.

As I've gotten older and visited many more car shows small and large. I've learned when planning on visiting these shows to look for activity related things for my family to participate in. That way if I get lost taking pics and shaking hands my family will have something to do. Don't get me wrong, my family also enjoys good looking and historically significant vehicles. But, they do not spend the time that I do with each vehicle or in conversations with the owners. If I had the peace of mind that they were entertained while I was snapping pics, then we might stay longer.

So, I want to encourage Car Show planners as you get ready for this season, consider adding more family friendly related activities. Some of you already do to a degree. No doubt there are shows out there that do family friendly activities well. That's just not the norm. Even still, consider adding a few thing here and there to make it more family friendly. A brief search of the internet will turn up many fun activities that are easy to add to an event schedule.

Here are a few of my findings after just 10 minutes of online searching...
  • Small Bicycle races – speed across the parking lot.
  • Piston Toss – Engine pistons tossed for distance
  • Hot Wheels, Pinewood Derby, or Valve Cover Races – 20 Hot Wheels, 20 premade Pinewood Derby cars, 20 premade valve cover racers, or all three!
  • Junk yard parts identification – 10 parts, identify the make, and model.
  • Frozen T-shirt Block Breaking – Race to break or deice the event T-shirt frozen in a block of ice first.
  • Beat up a Beater for $2 – A donated junk car with glass and fluids removed. One big bat. You get the picture. Proceeds for the club or a charity.
  • Painting Hoods or Helmets for Charity – Car hoods or helmets are donated by local dealers or parts suppliers. Artists/Applicants paint them. Applicants have three weeks to be artistic with the hood or helmet. Then the painted hoods or helmets are displayed at the car show. Attendants to the show choose an overall winner. In the middle of the show the hoods or helmets are raffled off for charity. The companies that donate the hoods or helmets are promoted as sponsors on banners, t-shirts, and the show website.
  • Fan Belt Toss – Toss the belt and try to ring the traffic cone
  • Shopping Cart Race
  • Best Custom Wheelchair competition
  • Fire Truck tours
What activities do you have in mind? Sound off in the comments.

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