Saturday, whether they fancied vintage, classic, muscle, or “rat rods,” car lovers found plenty to appreciate as they converged on Great Bend’s Party in the Park car show. This year, the number of cars increased nearly 50 percent over last year’s event. 142 cars were on display, up from 93 the year before. Several factors were at play, and the appearance of reality television show ‘Street Rodding American Style,’ with hosts David Wolfe and Cy McCormack on location to interview three car owners about their rides for an upcoming show didn’t hurt.
This was the first year 17th Street Terrace was closed from McKinley to the west edge of the ball field, and the lack of traffic may have lent to the relaxed feel of the show, said co-organizer George Koptik, III. But some Party in the Park goers were confused about where they could park due to the road closure, said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. Still, organizers of the event will try it again next year before they decide if it works for everyone, she said.
“Last year, lots of people cruised by in their air conditioned cars, but this year we saw more families out strolling around looking at the cars,” Coptic said. Word of mouth that last year’s show was a success, and the fact that there was no fee charged also helped draw in car owners, he said.
In addition to individual car enthusiasts, several car clubs came to the show, including a G.T.O. club from Wichita. Members of the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association showed their hospitality by taking them on an impromptu tour of the SRCA drag strip west of the city.
In the afternoon, Hayes organized a group of judges to conduct a Top 40 Choice awards event. One award went to GTO Club member Les Linn, Derby, for his 1970 Pontiac Judge.
Encouraging the next gen
According Coptic, with activities like a coloring contest for kids, the show fit the goal of creating a family-fun event the whole city could enjoy. The pictures came from a coloring book provided by the organization “Take a Kid to a Car Show,” whose mission is to encourage future automobile enthusiasts to keep the hobby alive. A coloring station was set up where kids could color and turn in their picture and receive stickers. Later this week, Hayes said, the pictures will be on display at Perks and Gambino’s in Great Bend. Members of SRCA will judge and send awards to the winners.
“All in all, there was a large variety of excellent quality, well done cars at this show,” Coptic said. The good will created this year has him looking forward to next year’s show.