Classic rides drive to Gaston for Wapato Showdown
All the top models from last century will meet in a field in Gaston for the 25th annual Wapato Showdown, a three-day community celebration and vintage car, bike and camper convention Aug. 18 to Aug. 20.
The party starts Thursday night, Aug. 18, at Brown Park, with a cornhole tournament from 5 to 10 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 19, there will be a parade from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and a steak dinner downtown.
On Saturday morning, Aug. 20, the Gaston Fire Department is starting the day right by serving over 1,500 pancakes along with eggs, sausage and ham. Chief Dave Morris said the entire department and their families are needed to help flip hotcakes.
On Saturday evening, local band Strawberry Roan will conclude the festivities with a concert.
Proceeds from the Wapato Showdown will be reinvested in the community, including cardiac defibrillation devices around town that can be used to restart the heart of someone who is experiencing cardiac arrest.
Morris explained: "The profits from this help fund the Christmas lighting around town, fire and rescue equipment, and other community projects."
The festival has changed as well, becoming bigger and broader than it used to be.
"The Wapato Showdown has evolved from a one-day event to a multi-day, community-wide event," Morris said. "The Knights of Pythias have done a great job of creating an event that gives back to the community. The Gaston community actively participates by selling parking, food and merchandise that goes back to the local organizations working the show."
Organizer Ted Claussen said the car show, which features an array of awards, has quadrupled in size over the years.
"I think it's neat to get to see such a variety of vehicles. Every year we have people just starting to fix their cars up. It's fun to see year to year how much they have progressed. I enjoy getting to visit people and share our common interest," said Claussen, a member of the Knights of Pythias and chair of this year's car show. "I went to the first or second car show, and back then, (it had) only around 100 cars. Now we average close to 400 cars, and we've grown to include antique campers. The last few years, we've seen some neat restored old motorhomes."
Organizer Fred Black said his wife used to show a 1936 Packard, an extinct automobile last made in the 1950s.
"We drove it everywhere," Black recalled. "We never trailered it. Some people, the only time they've ever driven the car is to move it over to get a good picture on the grass."
To each their own. But that's not how Black rolls.
"I guess some people feel like, well, they've got hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of car, and that makes sense," Black said. "I still wouldn't have a car that I couldn't drive."
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