Despite threats of rain, the 26th Annual Slatington Lions Club Car Show went off without a hitch from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an awards ceremony afterward, Sunday at the Slatington Airport along Route 873.
While a few visitors were heard saying they had not brought their classic or antique car to the show due to predictions of thunderstorms, organizers of the event said the actual number of show cars there was down just slightly from past years, at about 400.
"The weather was cooperative. Unbelievable. Very fortunate," said Ted Kistler, the Lions Club's past Chairman of the event since 1989, who just this year passed the reins to Lions Club Event Co-Chairs Matthew Guesto, of Schnecksville, and Craig "Biggie" Weist, of Danielsville.
Guesto said that, normally, about 35 Lions Club members actively participate in the event; however, because it was his and Weist's first time running the show, at least 50 members came to help. Weist also noted that the only noticeable changes made this year were that a more centralized food court, including outside vendors, and a manufacturers midway, to give their new cars more visibility, were added.
And despite the high heat and humidity, visitors, such as Kathy and Bob Rau, of Emmaus, seemed to enjoy themselves.
"It's very nice...bigger than we thought it was going to be," said the Raus, who are themselves restoring a 1928 Ford truck that they said they hope to soon have in this, and other, local car shows.
And registered participants, too, like Keith Rapchak, of Palmerton, said they liked the show. As he stood by his 1939 Dodge pickup "rat rod", Rapchak said he consistently attends this show because, "It's local. There are a lot of good cars here. And it's a good time."
The show, along with an annual Christmas tree sale the Lions Club holds at the Slatington trailhead from late November until Christmas, are the two biggest fundraisers the group holds each year.
"Whatever we make today, we keep nothing. Eventually, it goes back," said Guesto.
He also noted that the club's other two big money-raising events include a Comedy Night the first Saturday in March at the Emerald Fire Company and a Community Steak Fry held the fourth Saturday in June at the Slatington Skeet Club Gove.
"Last year, we gave out $30,000," said Guesto after providing a paper that shows 2013 Slatington Lions Club donations went to over a dozen causes, including $3,500 to the Northern Lehigh Food Bank, $575 to the Northern Lehigh Historical Society and a combined total of $4,100 to the Center for Vision Loss and Leader Dogs for the Blind.
Guesto explained that the Lions Club, which is a worldwide volunteer organization and began in Slatington in 1948, was originally formed as a way to help the blind and people in need of eyeglasses but has expanded over the years to also help special needs children, give out scholarships and more, plus help as many local charitable groups as possible.
Money from the car show was gathered in a variety of ways, including the registration of the cars, visitor entrance fees, and a 50/50 money and fruit basket raffle, with the baskets donated by Seltzers Nursery & Landscaping, of Lehighton, from which the trees for the tree sale are also obtained. In addition, the club sold tickets to raffle off a Corvette and sold a variety of food, like hot dogs, hamburgers, pork barbecue, pierogies, ice cream and more.
The event also featured a DJ spinning tunes, a car corral "for sale" area, flea market/craft vendors and local group information booths.
Though Weist said there used to be 35 classes at the event, such as "1900-1949" and "MOPAR - A, C and E Body", etc., starting last year the group began a lottery system to award the majority of the trophies. However, he noted there were also nine specialty trophies available Sunday, including the "People's Choice Award" and the "Most Drastically Altered Award".
In addition, custom dash plaques were given to the first 200 participants who pre-registered for the show and slate special participation awards to the first 150 pre-registrants.
All of the trophies, which included large slate clocks for the first-place recipients, were sponsored by various local businesses and provided by PA Slatecraft LLC, which is owned by Danny and Lynne Ehrich and previously owned by Kistler.
Winners of the specialty trophies were: People's Choice Award - Vince Frey, of Lehighton, for his 1947 Mercury Pickup; Lions President's Award - Scott Perin, of Slatington, for his 2007 Chevy Corvette; Mayor's Award - William Shool, of Palmerton for his 1955 Chevy 210 Sedan; Slatington Masonic Award - Carson Krause, of Lenhartsville, for his 1931 Ford Model A; Most Drastically Altered Award - Brian Stichter, of Mooresville, for his 1929 Ford Rat Rod; Bup Kibler Memorial Award - Tim Seltzer, of Lehighton, for his 1935 International Produce Wagon; Oldest Car in Show Award, Stock - Al Grochowski, of Northampton, for his 1924 Jewett; and Furthest-driven Show Vehicle Award - Richard Meyer, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, for his 1936 Chevrolet Master.
The winner of the Corvette raffle was Bob Dietrich of Allentown.
While announcing the trophy winners, Guesto told car show attendees, "Next year, we're going to have you people choose a lot more stuff!"