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2021 Central Ohio Car Show Season in Review

After the finish of every season, I like to take a look back at what I think was good and what I think was not so good about it. The opinions expressed are my own and apply only to the events I attended. If you disagree with me or have an event you thought was particularly good or one not so good, please feel free to post a comment. With that said, lets get on with the review of the 2021 Central Ohio car show season..

From April 17 through November 12, I participated in 77 car shows, cruise-ins, and meet-ups and was a spectator in another nine. I took 5500 photos of classic cars, muscle cars, exotics, trucks, and motorcycles. I drove over 2600 miles round trip to report on local car events. This may all sound very impressive until you find out Jeff Tolley and his friends participated in 180 events this season. That's pretty much one every single day!

The Good:

Let's start with some good. The 2021 car show season pretty much returned to pre-pandemic normals. To my knowledge, not a single public health agency forced the cancellation of a car event this season because of Covid. Even the Governor allowed Goodguys to return to the Fairgrounds despite banning the public from attending the Ohio State Fair.

Shaun "Big Dawg" Saunders' C-Town Cruisers and Dan "Boots" Longenette and Pepsi's Auto Smarts Cruise and Ride had a full slate of events this season compared to last year. The two combined to host more than 50 shows in Central Ohio!

Following a two and three-year absence respectively, the cruise-in at Chesrown Chevrolet, Buick, GMC in Delaware, and the car show formerly known as On the Rocks in Dublin returned in 2021.

Unfortunately, not every event came back. Missing this season was the USA Days Car Show in Centerburg, Cruisin' For a Cause, one of my favorites, at the Discover Church in Dublin, the downtown Lithopolis show on Memorial Day, the Canal Winchester Labor Day car show, and the Spring Fling (it plans to be back in 2022) just to name a few of the missing shows this year.

The biggest shocker of the season came in June when it was announced after 12 years that Colo's Classic Car Show at the Columbus Zoo was canceled. A lot of rumors floated around as to the reason for the cancellation but the Zoo never put out an "official" statement as far as I know.

After hosting no shows in 2020, The Rod Knockers Car Club out of Marion and the Mid Ohio Cruisers Club out of Marysville returned with their monthly car shows. The Mid Ohio Cruisers show had a new home at the Burger King on Route 31. It took a few shows for everyone to get adjusted to the new location. No question, both clubs continue to put on the best no registration fee car shows in Central Ohio.

The weekly Thursday cruise-in at the Der Dutchman Restaurant in Plain City continued its reign as the king of Central Ohio cruise-ins. The cruise-ins started two weeks earlier this year. It was attended by more than 300 cars seven times during the summer. It set an all-time attendance record of 439 cars on the last cruise-in of the year. A whopping 2900 vehicles were registered in 2021.

Looking back over the year, I can't say there were any shows I attended that were truly outstanding. At the same time, I can't say I attended any that were horrible, either.

The Empty Pockets Cruisers hosted four shows this year instead of their usual three. All four shows were well done. Their Trunk or Treat show continues to be one of my favorites. I always say it takes car people to put on a good car show.

Shows that I participated in for the first time included the All Corvette Gathering, Hosanna Lutheran Church Car Show, Mechanicsburg First Responders Car Show, Blackwing Shooting Center Summer Blast, Farrows Hot Rods and Handlebars, and Tolles Career and Technical Center Car and Craft Show. I was a spectator at my first Italian Gathering and Kreiger Ford Mustang and All Ford Show.

Buckeye Cruzin' at Ohio Stadium gets the award for the most expensive registration fee. Although to be fair, the $175 fee went to support the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer. It was a fun event until the engine revving got out of hand and forced me to leave.

The most chaotic event this year was the Jax Wax Street Madness in July. The title gave a pretty good description of the event. Between the steady line of cars trying to get into the parking area and the hundreds of car audio systems blaring, I had a pounding headache by the time I left.

Heels and Wheels at the Vanity Gentlemen's Club was the most "adult" car show I attended. The Mayor had a couple of huge assets that were hard to overlook. Those who attended the show will know what I'm talking about.

Frank Sanborn gets this year's most miles traveled award. Not only did Frank attend shows in Central Ohio, but he also traveled to events in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, Bowling Green, Kentucky, Fairmount and Gas City Indiana, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Not So Good:

Some not-so-good news this year was the loss of some of our car show community members. Larry Bickers passed away in May. Many of you will remember Larry from his 2003 Mustang "Daily Driver" with more than 190,000 miles.

In September, we lost Jim Matheny. I never met Jim, but I'm told he helped organize and run lots of car shows in the Newark/Heath areas. He held positions with the Super Chevy Car Show Organization and Let's Go Cruising Magazine. For many years, he served as chairman for "Lite the Nite" and operated Jim Matheny Kar Shoz.

And finally, Terry McReynolds passed away in October. Terry was the Pace Truck Driver at Columbus Motor Speedway for more than 20 years. He was also an integral part of Pepsi's Auto Smarts Cruise and Ride team and a close friend of Dan "Boots" Longenette.

All three will be very much missed as will others who passed away this year.

This was my tenth year attending car shows and the first time experiencing a collision at one. A car leaving the North Hills Church of God Car and Bike Show in September pulled out in front of an oncoming car and caused it to flip around 360 degrees hitting a motorcycle and car participating in the show. This added a bit more excitement to the show than expected.

Another first in 2021 was my banishment from the Ohio Car Shows and Cruise-ins Facebook group in July. The reason for being banished was my disagreement with their decision not to approve the list of Central Ohio car events for the week of July 12-18. They decided not to publicize any events that might compete with their group car show at Knox County Fairgrounds that Saturday. Seriously? The group's stated purpose is to promote car shows and cruise-ins in and around the state of Ohio.

After 12 years of meeting on Saturday mornings, Columbus Cars and Coffee at Lennox Town Center was abruptly canceled in May after some participants leaving the meet displayed some very poor judgment. In November, the group started meeting on Saturdays again at The City Apartments -- formerly the old University City shopping center.

I know some of you may disagree with me -- especially everyone at the Vettes, Rods, and Classics show in August when a monsoon passed through Gahanna during the awards ceremony. But I thought the weather wasn't as big a factor this season as in prior years. Out of the hundreds of events scheduled only 15 were canceled or postponed becasue of weather. And most were postponed to a later date.

Speaking of postponed. Thanks to a forecast that turned out to be totally wrong (big surprise), the Performance Charity Car Show in downtown Delaware, Ohio was postponed from July to October. And boy did that turn out to be a good move. The weather on the October date was about as perfect as one could expect for a car show. The organizers liked the October date such much, they've decided to hold the 2022 show in October.

Top Ten:

At the end of every season, I post my ten favorite vehicles I saw at a show or cruise-in. Here are the ones that made me stop and take a second, third, or sometimes fourth look.

No. 10 - 2016 EZ Go Golf Cart model "Tow Mater" - Owner: Julie Brown

No. 9 - 1937 Humber Pullman Limo - Owner: Ryan Patten

No. 8 - Restomod 1969 Chevy Camaro - Owner: Unknown

No. 7 - 1959 Desoto Fireflite Sportsman - Owner: Kaylee Bickel

No. 6 - 1950's Jaguar XK 120 Coupe - Owner: Unknown

No 5. - 1947 Chevrolet Fleetline Aerosedan - Owner: Clement Thurn

No 4. - Restomod 1967 Chevy Camaro - Owner: Ed Stizza

No. 3. - 1962 Dodge Dart - Owner: Steve Brown

No. 2 - 1948 Chevy Pickup - Owner: Sam Parks

No. 1 - Legends of Rock Custom Built Motorcycle - Owner: Unknown

Favorite Photos:

Take 5500 photos and there's bound to be some favorites. Here are the ones that I think best capture the season.

Click or tap on a photo to enlarge and enter slideshow mode.

Final Thoughts:

2021 turned out to be another great year for car events in Central Ohio. Because of the reduced number of events in 2020, the sheer volume of events this season was staggering. There were a lot of Saturdays with more than 15 events on the schedule.

What I really enjoyed most about this year was the opportunity to get to know many members of the car community a little better. The people you meet and the friends you make are the main reasons car cruises are so special.

2021 also gave me a sneak peek at the future. The next generation of car enthusiasts is alive and well. They may not seek awards like our generation. And their autos may not be Chevys, Fords or Dodges, but they're proud of their rides and they like to hang out and talk cars just like we do. And that's what counts.

I want to take a moment to thank some folks who helped me compile the weekly reports. They reported on shows I didn't or couldn't attend (I still haven't figured out how to be in multiple places at once). Without their help the weekly News and Notes would not have been anywhere near as detailed.

My sincerest thanks goes out to:

  • Jeff Shankle - I know for a fact he took more car photos than I did
  • Dale Pearce - If Dale doesn't know about a show, it ain't happening
  • Dave Bratton - Great resource for show information
  • Mark & Cathy Krist - Did a great job of reporting in between planting and harvesting vegetables.
  • Dan Varner - Seems have the scoop before anyone else.

Unless there's some late-breaking news to report, I'm going to take some time off to recharge. I'm leaving for Florida at the end of December. I'll be back just in time for the start of the 2022 car show season. Look for the first installment of "Save the Dates for 2022" sometime in February. The list is already growing.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Holiday season. I look forward to seeing everyone again next year.


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17 thoughts on “2021 Central Ohio Car Show Season in Review

  1. JEFF SHANKLE

    THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE CAR SHOW WORLD BROTHER HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME DRIVING THAT CORVETTE AROUND IN FLA WHILE WE ARE FREEZING UP HERE GOD BLESS BROTHER

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thank you, Jeff! I appreciate all your help. Couldn't do it with you.

      Count on you and your family being in my thoughts and prayers as I bask in the warm Florida sun this winter.😎

      Reply
  2. jim colson

    Excellent pictures and write up of the year & years gone past. looking forward to next years guide of events. Thank you so much

    Sincerly, Jim Colson
    Gas guzzlers car club.

    Reply
  3. TOM RIZEK

    Hi Kim,
    Great job to you and the gang. Car Show Talk is the best website for information on car shows and to keep the muscle car sport going!
    Have fun in Florida... Rest, Relax & Recharge for next year.
    -Tom Rizek

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thanks, Tom! I think the website's pretty good, but then again I'm kind of biased.

      This morning's 21-degree temperature made me wish I left for Florida last week.

      Stay warm this winter. I'll see you next spring.

      Reply
  4. Paul and Lynn Raduege

    Thanks for all the great pics and the car show news. We greatly appreciate what you do. Enjoy your break.

    Reply
  5. Dale Pearce

    Thanks Kim for all the time and effort you put into this site. The information and pics. you gather are fantastic. I know you do it for the people with no compensation and donate all that information and time. I really enjoyed following the site. Have a safe trip and Happy Holidays to you and yours. Thank you sir ! 🙏🏽's

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thanks, Dale. I couldn’t have done it without your assistance this year. I also enjoyed talking with you and getting to know you better.

      Stay warm and have safe and joyous Holiday. Look forward to seeing photos you post of the little ones.

      Reply
  6. Matt Rittenhouse

    Great season wrap up!

    Thank you for all the hard work keeping us all up to date about what is going on each week. Your site is the only one I use for car show info because it's so comprehensive.

    Have fun in Florida and try not to drive that Corvette too much! We'll see you in the spring!

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thanks Matt, Glad to hear you find the site so useful.

      You can bet I'm driving the wheels off the Corvette in Florida. I might actually sit on the beach this year. And that's coming from someone who doesn't enjoy sand up their crack. 😎

      Have a safe Holiday season. Keep Columbus under control while I'm gone. If you can do a couple of fly overs my house per week to make sure it's okay that would be great. See you in the spring.

      Reply
  7. Clement Thurn

    Hi, Kim !! Wonderful report, and thanks for doing all that you do !! Thanks for mentioning my 1947 Fleetline Woody . Wow. What an honor, I appreciate that. Be safe and have fun in that warm state in the South. We will see you next year. Happy Thanksgiving , Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thanks, Clement. Cars built immediately after WWII are kind of rare these days. Your '47 is a wonderful example of the cars from that period. The Chevys, Buicks and Pontiacs built right after the war have always been some of my favorite cars. I like how your '47 keeps with the original look and style.

      You stay safe and warm as well. Have a wonderful Holiday season. I look forward to seeing you again next spring.

      Reply
  8. Mark & Cathy Rollison-Krist

    Have a great time in Florida Kim. Thank you for all you do keeping us all informed on shows. We enjoyed and loved your recap of the year. See you in the spring. Send us your address down there we might just come down and start our vegetable seedlings a bit earlier this year for our spring planting. (wink, wink). 🙂
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very healthy and Happy New Year.

    Reply
    1. Kim Hawksworth

      Thanks, Cathy and Mark,

      I appreciate all the reporting you did this year. When it comes to car shows and cruise-ins, It's great to have eyes and ears all over Central Ohio.

      I hope you both have a safe and Happy Christmas and New Years. By all come down to New Smyrna Beach and start your vegetables. Not sure how well the plants will like the salt air because there's plenty of it.

      Take care and I'll see you next spring.

      Reply

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