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Up-North Wisconsin Shows

Up-North Wisconsin Shows


Car shows differ in different parts of the country and even in different parts of one state. We grew up in the Northeast where car shows tend to have lots of rules about what type of cars are allowed in a show and which ones aren’t “old enough” or fancy enough.

When we started writing about cars, we went to some West Coast shows. They seemed to be mostly one-day events that started early and ended early so that over-heated showgoers could head for the beach (especially those with woodie wagons.

Then, we moved to north central Wisconsin, where Chevys and Corvettes are very popular, but practically anything goes. It’s rare to go to a Wisconsin show where they won’t let your tuner or modern musclecar in. It’s also rare for shows here to have a rain date, because the season is short and every small village has to squeeze their event in.

North Central Wisconsin goes from Eau Clare in the West to Green Bay at the East end. And there are some really great car shows in that band because there are old-car publications, museums and restoration shops throughout the region. Events range from the Iola Car Show (one of the largest in the country) to the Symco Rod & Kustom Weekender (among the most tradition of the traditional hot rod shows).

For vintage racing fans, Road America, in Elkhart Lake, hosts three internationally known historic competitions each summer. Vintage drag racers converge on Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna at many of their events. (Believe it or not, there are even Ice Drags in Merrill, Wis., and Manawa, Wis, every winter.) For anyone who likes both classic cars and motorcycles, there’s an annual show in Fond du Lac called “Heroes, Horses and Hogs” that features veterans, Harley-Davidsons and Ford Mustangs.

If you visit the area during the week, you may not have the opportunity to take in a car show, but there are still old-car attractions you might be interested in. The Wisconsin Automobile Museum in Hartford (www.wisconsinautomuseum) spotlights Kissel Kars, Nash models and Flat Track race cars, but has a little of everything. The Dahl Automotive Museum in La Crosse ( grew out of one of the oldest Ford dealerships in the nation. The Automobile Gallery ( in Green Bay covers the entire spectrum of automotive history from beginning to end. The FWD-Seagrave Museum in Clintonville ( will be opening regular hours this summer for fire engine and truck buffs. Part of it is in the building where four-wheel-drive was first invented. If a museum with oddball cars, a Corvair dealership and its own junkyard sounds fun, visit the Motorama ( in Aniwa.