MANCHESTER, VT.— There's something about a classic car in pristine condition that makes heads turn. It's not just the realm of motor heads, either, and the appeal seems legion.
This weekend, fans of antique and preserved automobiles will have their first chance of the summer show circuit to take in rows of the classics, as Manchester hosts its 30th Annual Antique and Classic Car Show.
Berta Maginnis, spokesperson for the show, said the type of fervor and appetite expressed by people associated with the show is common among car aficionados.
"Classic and antique car owners are very passionate," Maginnis said. "Car shows are upbeat events because there's so much mutual respect and admiration for the work put in to the cars. It really is like a large family gathering."
One of those widely recognized "car guys" in the Northshire is George Ohlweiler.
He has been a key figure in the organization and logistics of the car show for the last eight years, spending up to 10 months annually volunteering his time to the cause.
But the end result, Ohlweiler said, can be a lot of fun.
"I've been around car shows my whole life," Ohlweiler said. "One thing about them is that you'll always see something you didn't expect and had never seen before."
That dynamic is pleasing to car enthusiasts, especially because of the show's timing in the calendar, and history.
The Manchester show began as Vermont's "dust off" in 1986 and quickly became a "must attend" on the calendar of regional car enthusiasts.
Maginnis said "dust off" is car-speak for "first show of the season." Dust offs tend to attract a healthy number of entries and considerable crowds with spring fever. This year will be no exception with cars set to arrive from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Show organizers anticipate upwards of 350 cars, a variety of food vendors, and more than 100 vendors in the flea market — the latter has been a traditional family oriented addition to the show. The market takes place Saturday and Sunday on the main field, Maginnis said.
The show will bring together cars of all makes and models. This year, admission to the show as well as car entry registration will be free courtesy of the sponsorship of Don Dorr, of Dorr Oil Company.
"Don will host the show on his spectacular farm on Route 30 just one mile north of Manchester," Maginnis said. "[It's] a perfect setting for a car show, with lush green space, and a quintessential red barn that says 'this is Vermont.'"
On both Saturday and Sunday, the show field will open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be a car parade through Manchester at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Registration for cars and flea market vendors will open at 7 a.m. daily. The awards ceremony will be at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
A sizeable cadre of sponsors and volunteers gives the event its full-service appeal.
Also, there will be a car corral available for those attendees who are looking to both sell and buy a car.
"This can range from a classic in great shape to a project," Maginnis said.
The show has additional family activities. These include car trivia, a poker run, 50/50 raffles, and the annual tailgate competition. Also, on Saturday evening, The Barrows House in Dorset, Vt., will host a cocktail party and there will also be a Saturday night dance at the Dorr Farm Barn.
The best in show winner will earn a special 30th-anniversary trophy. Additional honors include the Founder's Award, named for show founder Oscar Johnson, and the Linda Spence Award for the car judged the "best work in progress." Spence, who served as Manchester's town clerk for two decades, was a known fan of the show and died in 2014 after a full day of enjoying car show activities.
Other awards include the Best of 1940s, '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s, and a club participation award.
Maginnis said there are three locations in Manchester to pick up information pamphlets: on North Main Street at the Berkshire Bank and TPW, and on Rt. 11.30 just east of town at the Green Mountain National Forest ranger station.
"This show is very important locally and we are fortunate to have Don Dorr step forward to make sure the show goes on this year," Maginnis said. "We love being able to showcase our great community to guests from around New England."
IF YOU GO ...
What: 30th Annual Manchester Antique and Classic Car Show
When: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 11, 12
Where: Dorr Farm on Vt. Rt. 30, in Manchester, Vt.
For information: manchestercarshow.com, or 802-362-2100
—Telly Halkias is an award-winning freelance journalist