LIMA — Rick Davis and the others who put on car shows in the Lima region have one thing in common: They do it because it’s fun.
“If you want to be around good people, go to any car show. You’ll find them,” said Davis, who owns 396 Custom Cars in Cairo.
Davis puts on two shows in the small Allen County village: the Cairo 696 Custom Car Show on June 11, which is in its 10th year, and the Halloween Trick or Treat Show on Oct. 8. The first is a fundraiser that benefits charities; the second is a “fun”-raiser that will leave people talking during the winter months.
“We’ll be doing a burn-out contest to end the Halloween show,” Davis said.
Last year the COVID pandemic turned off the engine of some car shows. This year, there will be no shortage of car shows around the Lima region.
They will come in all sizes. There are large shows, such as the Pioneer Day Car Show in Kalida on Sept. 10 and the Westgate Charity Car Show in Lima on June 26, and smaller events like the Happy Daz Cool Car Cruise-In held, every Wednesday starting in May.
The Pioneer Days Car Show in Kalida was started in 1985 by Mike Rigsby of Rigsby Performance in Lima. Pioneer Days is the oldest festival held in Ohio, organizers say, with this year marking its 150th year. The car show attracts more than 300 entries from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky. It attracts thousands of spectators.
“It’s not so much the number of cars, but the quality of the vehicles that impresses me,” Rigsby said. “Every year the quality gets better and better. There are some really nice vehicles.”
The Pioneer Days Car Show is the biggest and longest-held car show in the area, Rigsby pointed out.
“We started it in 1981 in Lima and moved it to Kalida in 1985. It is always held the Saturday after Labor Day,” he said.
The organizers of car shows often have their own vehicles on display and freely tell the stories behind them.
In Lima, Andy Maravola proudly includes his 1991 Camaro in the Westgate Charity Car Show, now in its 14th year.
“I saw an ad for this car in one of the car magazines, so I traveled to Sharon, Pennsylvania, to see it,” Maravola said. “The car was in good shape, but since I was getting married, I was hesitant to spend the money. When I got back from our honeymoon, I went back and made an offer, and the owner accepted it.”
Chris Schimpf, who puts on the Happy Daz Cool Car Cruise-In, doesn’t own a classic car. But true to its name, the show can find a new Tesla parked beside a 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air.
“I just enjoy seeing all the vehicles, old and new,” he said. “And it’s also fun just to talk with the people.”