Nine years ago, a group of hard-core “automobile aficionados” got together to put together a car show on the Limestone County Courthouse Square for two reasons: they wanted to enjoy their hobby as well as the fun that comes from getting together, and wanted to help support charities in Athens Limestone.
This year’s event will be held on Saturday, April 30th, from 8am to 3pm. Tickets are $20, day of show.
“We don’t make a dime from this,” event organizer Tom Schuman told me. “We just love doing it, and love being able to give back to the community,” he added.
As is the case with many events in Athens, what started off as being a small, local event, has grown tremendously. This year they are expecting between 400 and 600 cars, and motorcycles have been added to the lineup. There will be antique cars, muscle cars, classic cars, hot rods, and more, and the same is true for the motorcycles.
It is not uncommon for Cars and Bikes on the Square to bring 3,000 people to Athens, so in addition to being something that raises money for several local charities, it also helps to kick off our tourist season.
One of the automobiles that will be at the show is literally a million-dollar car, having been selected as a finalist in the Detroit Auto Rama Great 8 Competition. It is a lime green 1965 Dodge Dart, and has had 14,000 hours of labor put into it.
Another “must see” car is a locally owned and restored 1955 Porsche Speedster convertible, which has an interesting story attached to it. Jay McCook, of McClary Ford purchased the Speedster over 40 years ago, and it sat for decades up in Chicago, in a completely ruined state. “It was rusted through,” he told me, “and it wasn’t worth anything.” He had paid a whopping $700 for it back in the day, and sank around $175,000 into it to restore it. “We researched every detail, and made sure that this car looks exactly like it did back in 1955 when it was new.” It was indeed a labor of love and meticulous attention to detail from the period, and it is now estimated to be worth $400,000. Jay is planning on selling it eventually, but for now is just enjoying the fruit of his labors as he drives it around. I got to sit in it for a few minutes as he parked it outside the Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful Gulf Station, and pretended I was Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn back in the day. Man, what a car!
There will be what is known as a Builders’ Alley, which is sponsored by Clayton Machine Works, as well as a Hot Rod Alley. Professionals from the vehicle restoration business from Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee will be on hand. An added treat will be the presence of Derek Travis from the Discovery Channel’s hit TV show, Street Outlaws, and Lou Santiago from Car Fix, also seen on Discovery/Velocity. They will be available to chat and sign autographs. For fun, Shake, Rattle and Roll will “roll on down” from Columbia, TN, along with an Elvis impersonator.
One unique and important feature of Cars and Bikes on the Square is that it is not a judged event in the usual sense, other than there is a Mayor’s trophy. Tom told me, “Early on we realized that people liked the drawings and the cash prizes, and wanted us to leave the judging out.” However, there are ample opportunities for both exhibitors and attendees alike to win cash prizes, as well as bless those who are in need. Tom added, “There is a drawing every half hour from the money tree, and that begins at 9 am. People need to get there early.” There will be at least $10,000 in cash and other prizes given away, and another feature, which is known as the “50/50 pot.” That is a raffle that is open to all attendees, and at the end of the day the winner will be announced. Fifty percent of the pot will go to the winner, and 50 percent to a designated charity.
Cars and Bikes on the Square as always supported Hospice of Limestone County, but as the event has grown, so has their ability to give back. This year they will also be donating to the Ft. Henderson Museum project, as well as the Alabama Veterans’ Museum. LCCI (Limestone County Churches Involved), which runs the food bank on Jefferson Street in Athens, will be the recipient of the 50/50 pot.
If you are in the market for good, family fun, an opportunity to view automotive history, and be part of helping several good causes in Limestone County, then come to the 9th Annual Cars and Bikes on the Square on April 30th.
For more information, contact Tom Schuman at firstname.lastname@example.org, or his cell at 256-457-9179, or visit their Facebook page at Cars and Bikes on the Square.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner