Onawa's 22nd Annual
Blast From the Past.....Graffiti Night
Onawa, Iowa
June 24, 2006
Pictures from "CLASSICS" Car Club

Onawa’s 22nd Annual Blast from the Past. . .GRAFFITI NIGHT returned to downtown Onawa and the Widest Main Street in the U.S.A. Saturday, June 24. The event was hosted by the “CLASSICS” Car Club, Inc., in addition to numerous sponsors like O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, Sheridan Auto Center, McDonalds of Onawa, Kurt Neldeberg/Ansco Seeds, Dennis Nelson/Nelson Propane, the Onawa Democrat, Iowa Theater, Onawa Chamber of Commerce and Year One.
Other area businesses contributing to the success of this year’s event included:

B & B Round-up
Ben Fish Tire
Berry Lumber Co.
Blencoe Bank – Onawa
Butch Uehling
Casey’s General Store
Cass Motors LLC

Darren Goslar
Dugdale’s Car Wash
Fiesta Foods
First Federal Bank
Harold Johnston
Iowa-Nebraska Bank
Janz Restaurant

Kuhlmann Collison Repair
Main Street Motors
Onawa Craft Shop
Onawa Real Estate
Onawa V.F.W.
O’Neill’s Tavern
PCS Technologies
Rush Family Care Service

Schenkelberg Implement
Stangel Pharmacy
State Farm Insurance
Super 8 Motel
This, Than & a Whole Lot More
US Bank
Vetter Equipment
Western Iowa Auction Co.

The event kicked-off Friday morning with a downtown display of “CLASSICS” members cars while the club hosted the weekly Chamber of Commerce Coffee Hour. . .not content with the same old, mundane coffee and donuts, the Club served up hot sloppy joes, rootbeer and strawberry floats and old-fashioned, made-from-scratch cherry Cokes in the Spartan Café building.

The “CLASSICS” also exhibited a 30-year collection of photos and other memorabilia from the Clubs past.
Some businesses like Chad Burtch’s State Farm Insurance office even got into the celebration by decorating their front windows in a GRAFFITI NIGHT theme!! Saturday included a full day of family fun and activities, in addition to a display of some of the finest classics, rods and customs from Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and even Colorado. The event attracted well over 250 of these mechanical works of art to Onawa!!

Large crowds of visitors took in the show, and enjoyed sidewalk sales, a variety of street vendors, food vendors, exhibits and displays, including a full-size replica of the Lewis & Clark Keelboat.   Main Street rang with the sound of music as a D.J. kept everyone entertained and announced door prize winners throughout the day. Youngsters were entertained with a D.A.R.E. exhibit from both Monona and Woodbury County, a dunk tank, face painting, mini train rides courtesy of the Mapleton Fire Department, and games.

The ‘Big Boys’ enjoyed an engine dyno, where they could have their vehicles checked for horsepower and torque, Hooter’s Girls, O’Reilly’s Pitstop Challenge where teams competed for a $100 O’Reilly’s Gift Certificate, a “Hot Pipes” Competition with trophies for both open and closed classes, and a ‘Dry Run’ 50/50 Drawing where a vehicle was drained of all fluids and chances were sold on how long it would run ‘dry’ (in this case) 15 minutes and 37 seconds. Miah Terry made the closest guess without going over and won half the pot.   A Model Car Contest was also held for youngsters and adults with Austin Huff of Blencoe receiving a 1st Place in the 11 & Under Class. Jaron Ringler took 1st in the 12-19 Class and Steve Greve took 2nd Place. In the adult category, Jim Ringler took 1st, 2nd and 3rd, with his many well-built models, as well as Best of Show.

Other entertainment included an ‘Elvis’ Show, Jaws of Life Demonstration by the Onawa Fire Department, Barbecue, Hot Rod Quilt Raffle, Street Dance featuring The Shadows, and plenty of old-fashioned Cruisin’ on the Widest Main Street in the U.S.A.!!

 A late afternoon sprinkle was all that otherwise threatening skies delivered and the day continued under blue skies with even more cars coming in after registration closed.

Awards were presented at 7:00 p.m. and included the “Top 30 “CLASSICS” Picks’, which were sponsored by O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, in addition to a variety of specialty awards. After the awards, a special ceremony recognized the “CLASSICS” founding members from 30 years ago, including Charter Club President Robert “Uncle Bob” Swenson. 30-Year members in attendance were (l-r) William Wonder, “Uncle Bob” Swenson, Jim Beck, Max Bonine, Ronnie Sanders, Rod Ulven, Mike Chapman and Bob Gay 30 years ago this December, a group of local auto enthusiasts gathered together at Marion Chapman’s shop in Whiting on a cold night in November of 1976. Members at that gathering in-cluded Jim Beck of Onawa, Norman Huff of Blencoe, William Wonder of Onawa, Mike Beck of Onawa, Bill Beck of Onawa, Ron Sanders of Whiting, Bob Gay of Sloan and Mike Chapman of Blencoe. Discussion centered on forming a Club for area auto enthusiasts, including tossing around some potential names for the yet-to-be-formed organization. Several names were suggested, but they just didn’t seem to have the right sound. . .until Bob Gay coined the name The “CLASSICS”.

Plans were made to contact other enthusiasts in the area, including members of a former local truck club. A date was set for the first “CLASSICS” meeting and cards were mailed out. This meeting was held on Wednesday, December 1st, 1976 at the Onawa Happy Chef. The first meeting was very successful, with around 20 auto enthusiasts from around the area in attendance. Bi-laws were discussed and a slate of officers selected. These included several members of the former truck club like Charter President Robert “Uncle Bob” Swenson, Vice-President Norman Huff, and Treasurer Rod Ulven. Mike Chapman was also elected as the first club Secretary. Rod was also the Treasurer for the former truck club, and after a vote by the former members of that club, the small amount of money that was still in their coffers, opened a new account under the name of the “CLASSICS”. Subsequent gatherings began with regular monthly meetings at the Happy Chef, attracting anywhere from 14 to 29 mem-bers on average. Other meetings were held at Chapman’s Garage in Blencoe to prepare cars for the annual I.S.C.A. Show in Sioux City, Iowa. That’s right, not even two months after the first meeting, members were preparing to show off their vehicles as a club at area shows. Of course, Jim Beck was somewhat of a catalyst for all this, having been a former member of the truck club while building his soon-to-be multi-award winning ’56 Ford F-100. Jim, his truck and his body and paint skills would soon prove to be an inspiration to all of us over the years.  The first I.S.C.A. Show in Sioux City was January 28-30, 1977, with members preparing to participate including Jim Beck of Onawa with his ’56 Ford F-100, Bob Gay of Sloan with his injected big block, ’65 Corvette Coupe, Norman Huff of Blencoe with his ’58 Chevrolet Impala, and Mike Chapman of Blencoe with his ’31 Ford Coupe. As one of the first tests of how well this club works together, many members helped clean and prepare these cars for the Sioux City show, including stripping and repainting Mike’s Model A just a couple of days before the show. . . and having it ready on time!!

Members who have continued their membership faithfully for the past 30 years also received special recognition, including Bob Swenson of Soldier, William Wonder of Onawa, Bob Gay of Sloan and Ron Sanders of Whiting.   Other longtime members who have been there for the Club for 23 years included Charlie Meadows of Onawa, Willard Dahl of Onawa, Bill Hartwig of Fremont, Nebraska and Ken Hartwig of Pender, Nebraska. These guys have been members of the Club since 1983. Of course, a number of other members have come and gone over the years, and many of these (including our younger generations) are still very active today, and events like GRAFFITI NIGHT would not be possible without them. . .our younger generation of enthusiasts are the future of our Club, and all of us old guys hope that they will appreciate all our work, along with fond and fun memories of our past!!

All registered participants received two tickets to the special late night (10:00 p.m.) showing of the classic movie AMERICAN GRAFFITI at the Iowa Theater, which wrapped up the event. The evening continued, however, where the “CLASSICS” left off, with many local establishments providing additional entertainment and continuing the celebration, which was referred to by many as a large “Reunion” for Onawa, well into the wee hours of the morning. Some people came to Onawa from as far away as Texas and Colorado just to attend this event!!

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