The Victoria Car Show drew record numbers of participants this summer; so many in fact that it was the largest bimonthly car show in the state, according to a show official.
Mitch Peterson, a city business owner and co-chair of Discover Victoria Classic Car Night, says the eight shows, from June through mid-September, averaged 325 vehicles.
“We saw a lot of different cars each night, and the last show had about 100 to 150 vehicles from people who had never displayed at the show before,” Peterson said, adding that the largest show had about 425.
“There are usually a few more each show because some people prefer not to register,” he said. “The weather, except for one night early in the season, was great for the events.”
The car shows, which coincide with a concert in the park, are put on by the Victoria Business Association.
One man came from about 10 miles north of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to have his vehicle in one of the shows, while a couple from the East Coast also displayed their vintage Chrysler.
“The guy from Wisconsin drove out here because he’d heard how big of a show it is,” Peterson said. “And the retired couple from the Carolinas was on a road trip and all they were going to do was travel for a year and show their car.”
When asked why the shows have become so popular, Peterson suggested that it’s because of a “kind of a perfect storm in the area.”
“The area is getting a lot of publicity with its new restaurants in town and just how fast things are growing in the immediate area,” he said. “I think people are hungry for different things to do, especially the younger family demographics moving out in our direction.”
Peterson, owner of Seek Eye Care in Victoria, said families look for places to get children out of the house for little cost; adding that the free car show and availability to purchase food and beverage items, while viewing the exhibits, provides an opportune environment.
“I think a lot of people, but more this season, came to the car show and saw how much we have to offer in Victoria and came back to see what else there is to do,” Peterson said. “I know my business has seen a residual sales increase because of it and I know other businesses have too.”
Phyllis Engston and Betsy Crookston, both of Waconia, said they attended several car shows in Victoria, largely to enjoy a local event and reminisce about the cars.
“Some of these cars bring back a lot of memories,” Engston said, “quickly adding that her family never maintained their vehicles at the same level as the exhibitors. “The ones I recall weren’t for show, just necessity.”
“It’s just so much fun to walk around and see the cars and remember a different time, when these weren’t antiques, but were common every day,” Crookston said.
Peterson said he spent about 20 to 30 hours a week working on “car show stuff on car show weeks.” He mentioned several civic groups are helping, but more assistance is needed.
Patron parking seems to be the main sticking point, but Peterson said that is to be expected when display vehicles take over a large amount of the available downtown parking spots.
“Lots of people came despite the available parking issue, which says good things about the event,” he said. “I’ve had great feedback from businesses and residents. I count that as a win.”