Archive for Thursday, June 21, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles draws another strong turnout

June 21, 2007

Beautiful weather and nearly 40 more cars helped bring a large crowd of people to the fourth-annual Planes, Trains and Automobiles event Saturday.

Downtown Baldwin City was busy with bands, motorcycles, cars and other events on the main stage. Vinland Airport and Midland Depot were also busy throughout the day.

"It was a great event this year," event chairman Stan Vickers said. "We are expecting an even better event next year. We had a good turnout. It's a growing event, now it's just a matter of keeping it growing."

With the sun shining all day and only a few clouds in the sky, Vickers was pleased with the weather. He had hoped it might be a bit cooler, though.

"We had great weather," Vickers said. "It was a little warm. We would like to see it a little cooler, but you can't do much about that. But, it was great weather all day."

Despite all of the events Saturday, the main attraction is the car show. They ranged from hot rods to Corvettes to Mustangs to antique trucks.

Jim Mitchell, PTA automobile committee chair, reported 101 cars were entered in the show. He also said that number was approximately 40 higher than last year's event.

"It was a pretty good show," Mitchell said. "We always want more, but I was very pleased with it this year. We have room to expand if we can get more cars next year. I wasn't sure how many would show for sure, but I think we had a good turnout."

Mitchell was thrilled about the variety of cars that were entered this year. He hopes that will continue to happen.

"I thought we had some really nice cars in all of the categories," Mitchell said. "We had a sample of everything. It was great."

Another event that was also successful was the free plane rides at Vinland Airport. There were 60 children that were given free airplane rides Saturday, which is equivalent to last year's number.

Each child that took a ride received a certificate from the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program.

"It was a very successful day," said Star Novak, PTA planes committee chair. "We're pleased that so many children could fly."

Novak said that Tandy Allen, regional spokesperson for the EAA Young Eagles, was impressed that 60 children took part in the event again. She also said most of the children came between 10 a.m. and noon, because of the weather.

"It was especially busy during the late morning," Novak said. "That's the prime time to fly because the air is cool. Later in the day, there is more turbulence and clouds. We just had a lot more kids in the morning."

Despite the popularity of the airplane rides and the car show, a few events saw a decrease in participation this year.

The vintage motorcycle show was smaller this year with only 35 bikes, although 150 motorcycles were ridden in by visitors for the event.

The second-annual Father's Days speeches also decreased in participation. There were only 13 read this year, while nearly 20 were done last year.

Although participation decreased, Vickers heard good things about the children's speeches.

"I had heard many of them were very emotional," Vickers said. "We had several people in the crowd that were weeping with joy. It was very exciting for the kids."

One event that saw no participation was the 50s costume contest. It never happened, according to Bonnie Plumberg, PTA costume contest committee chair.

"We'll have to try to promote it better next year or do something different," Plumberg said. "It was the first year trying it, so we'll try something next year to make it happen."

Throughout Saturday afternoon, three bands took to the stage to perform live music. They entertained visitors and local patrons for several hours.

"They were wonderful," said Rita Madl, PTA band committee member. "We had three great bands. We had a wonderful time. It was a good day and everybody enjoyed the music."

Vickers said the committee hopes to see more local patrons enjoying the music next year.

"The bands were great later in the evening," Vickers said. "We would like to see more participation from the local community to come out and see the bands."

Midland Railway offered two train rides Saturday. The Lodge had free miniature golf all day for fathers. Madl was pleased with this year's event.

"There were a lot of families that came into town to enjoy free miniature golf, plane rides and the train rides," Madl said. "It was a very successful day."

Madl said the committee thought there was a 30 percent increase in spectatorship this year. However, they will begin looking for ways to make the event bigger and better next year, possibly by adding something in the late afternoon after the car show. They also want to add another children's activity.

"That's the main plan -- to get fathers here with their children and enjoy the day," Vickers said. "We want to give them both something to remember.

"We need to get more merchants involved with the gathering of people," Vickers said. "We also need to advertise more. We want more people to know more about Baldwin."

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