Car show needs a tune-up



I would like to express my disappointment with the E.S. Car show held at the Passion Play on Sept. 7, 2019. Myself & 5 others paid to put our cars in. We are all seasoned car enthusiasts. We have all been judges and promoted car & bike events over the years. A couple are NSRA [National Street Rod Association] members and have been NSRA judges. We all could not believe how poorly the E.S. Chamber orchestrated this show. Some of the reasons for our disappointed are:

1) Parade at 11:00. Leave parking spot to go to parade??!! Lots of cars didn’t return. Should always be after the event!!

2) Cyclists event on the same grounds!! What are they thinking?? Cyclists riding around $20,000 paint jobs??!!

3) Classes, we were in Street Rods, which is 1946 and under. A 1970 Camaro wins??!! Plus many other classes did not fit the winning vehicle??!!

4)  Judges, we were there the whole time and never saw them, plus they finished in about 1 1/2 hours and we wait 5 hours for the awards??!! 

The show in 2018 was done at such a high standard, we thought we were coming back to the same.  

Bob Solomon


  1. The Eureka Springs Antique Auto Festival is obviously not a NSRA event. It is designed to be a laid-back, fun auto event held in an amazing Tourist Destination. This was the 49th year and has always been a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce. It is designed to increase commerce and visitation on the weekend after Labor Day (because fewer people travel on the weekend after a major holiday).

    The Parade has been held every year at 11am (with the exception of 2017 & 2018). This schedule is used because the attendees of the Antique Auto Fest enjoy showing off their vehicle to Eureka Springs Visitors who gather downtown mid-day to view the parade. The car owners find it fun to be considered part of the entertainment. After the parade, the car owners like to eat lunch at one of our amazing restaurants, and many finish off the afternoon with a bit of shopping or social activities. Some come and go from the show and most come back to show for a short awards presentation. This format/schedule has been used year after year (other than 2017 & 2018).

    Not that long ago, the Great Passion Play was asked to host the 2019 Arkansas Interscholastic Cycling League Race Series (This was a massive mountain bike event). It was a honer for the Passion Play to be asked to host the event. This happened after the Antique Auto Festival was scheduled. We were given late notice of the race and discussed the situation in detail. Overall, we were not concerned because these aren’t kids riding bicycles around a campground without supervision. The attendees of the Mountain Bike competition are highly skilled riders competing on expensive bikes and preparing to ride technical trails that many of us wouldn’t want to walk down. There was not a single incident with a bicycle at the car show. Rather, they were busy with their own event that was much bigger than the Antique Auto Fest, which included their own roped off area.

    We had 24 categories at the car show. The owner of each car in the show is allowed to choose their category. There is no year designation in our show for a Street Rod. The State of Arkansas designates a street rod differently than many other states, which doesn’t necessarily match NSRA. The Camaro (who was the runner up, not the winner) entered the street rod category and was judged by the 5 judges on Exterior/Paint, Wheels/Undercarriage, Interior, Engine, and Overall Appearance/Match. The 5 judges used an app to log their scores and wore nothing identifying them as Judges, therefore, they looked like every other person at the show. (This was done to increase the speed of judging so that they weren’t stopped by each owner to discuss/influence their score.) The Judges started at 8:50 am at the front of the car show and worked their way through efficiently and effectively literally finishing at 10:55 am before the Parade. The scores were automatically loaded onto the cloud drive.

    There were 3 errors during awards. One of the awards was printed with a different title that was a slight mis-match to the category. Also, for some reason, a car changed their registration number on the official judging form that was placed in their window (possibly they thought it was the year of the car and intended to correct it?). Regardless, it created a duplicate registration number which became an issue. The last error was a mis-key on a category during judging that caused an issue in the Galaxie class. We have since contacted the winner of the Galaxie category. All the issues were corrected and, other than the Galaxie category, they did not change the outcome of the winning scores.

    Overall, it was a well attended event. We had great vendors and attendees enjoyed viewing the cars. It was also hot and humid! So we were all ready to get out of the heat by 4pm. The heat made the last few hours of the show seem lengthy!

    There was a mix of participants… most knew the format of the traditional Eureka Springs Antique Auto Fest and were happy with the format. Some who expected an all day NSRA type car show were a bit disappointed. The good news is that we had hundreds of visitors, and many entries truly enjoyed the show and their trip to Eureka Springs. Many booked their rooms for September 12, 2020 for the 50th annual Antique Auto Festival. There will be big additions! Rat Rods, Pin-Ups, and Rock-a-billy will be coming to Pine Mountain to compliment the Antique Auto Show at the Passion Play.

Comments are closed.