Antique Auto Festival adds new wrinkles

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Classic car enthusiasts can look forward to busy few days in Carroll County this weekend and some new events in new places.

The 50th annual Antique Autos in the Ozarks festival, organized by the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, begins Thursday, Sept. 9, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 12. This year, the four-day event will feature several familiar activities and chances for participants to show off their antique cars even without the usual car show that headlined the event in the past.

Perhaps the biggest change, Eureka Springs chamber interim director Mike Seals said, is the event’s expansion into other areas of Carroll County.

“It really came of the desire to work closely together with other chambers and other communities that are involved with things happening in Carroll County,” Seals said. “There’s a limited amount of space in Eureka Springs and we thought that working together with the Holiday Island and Berryville chambers made a whole lot of sense. We’re hoping that in coming years, it might even expand beyond that.”

This year’s event hits the starting line in Eureka Springs, travels to Berryville on Friday, then returns to Eureka Springs on Saturday for the annual parade before taking a short detour to Holiday Island for a special 9-11 tribute before wrapping up Sunday afternoon.

“Antique automobiles are a popular thing,” Seals said. “They come to our area and even in the midst of the [COVID-19 pandemic], there’s a huge turnout. This is a great opportunity to work together more closely with other communities and chambers and do something that helps us all.”

The long weekend kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with a cookout at Stonegate Lodge, followed by a sunset cruise through Carroll County.

The hour-long cruise is expected to begin at 6:30 p.m., when participants will leave Stonegate Lodge and travel through town to Highway 187, then out to Beaver Dam and then back to town.

New to the festival this year will be the inaugural Poker Run through Berryville. According to Dean Lee, executive director of the Greater Berryville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Poker Run was envisioned as a way to add another element to the festival as well as expand its presence in Carroll County.

“They came in and asked us to help and we took over the Friday night piece,” Lee said. “What we’re doing is also using the opportunity to show off Berryville to all these people coming in from out of state or from across Arkansas.”

Registration for the Poker Run is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Harter House parking lot in Berryville. At 6 p.m., participants will begin heading out in search of a winning poker hand.

“Basically, we’re doing three different cruises through town,” said Lee, a Berryville native in his first year as chamber director. “We’ve got locations to the east and west, the north and south and the center part of the city. There are five stops per hand and we just run them through like we used to do when I was in high school.”

Each person participating in the Poker Run will get a chance to complete all three routes. The entry fee is $15 and winners will receive a share of the pot, in addition to a chance to participate in free drawings during the event.

The Poker Run is scheduled to end at 8 p.m. and prizes will be presented at 8:15 p.m. In addition to the Poker Run, participants will also be treated to live music from Lain’z Hot Rod Gang, a classic rock and blues band from Branson, from 7:15 p.m. through 9 p.m. in the Harter House parking lot.

On Saturday morning, the event revs up at 10 a.m. with a free photo opportunity with a professional photographer at The Palace Bathhouse and Hotel, followed by the traditional parade through downtown Eureka Springs beginning at 2 p.m. Lineup for the parade begins at noon at the Eureka Springs Community Center.

On Saturday evening, a special 9-11 tribute and memorial ceremony is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Park in Holiday Island featuring food, vendors and entertainment.

The event wraps up Sunday afternoon with a special performance by The Young Americans at 3 p.m. at Center Stage for Performing Arts. Festival participants are eligible for a $10 discount on show tickets.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good turnout,” Seals said. “The focus is to go ahead and expand the geography of [the festival] this year and then build on that in years to come. I’m really, really pleased the Dean Lee and Barb Talbot of the Berryville and Holiday Island chambers not only agreed to but were enthusiastic about joining forces to pull this off.”

For more information about the festival or to register, visit AntiqueAutoFest.com.

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