A celebration of the 1950s and ’60s, hot rods and custom cars, music and just a good time is in store for those who attend this year’s Jalopy Fest at the Grundy County Fairgrounds on Saturday and Sunday.
While the event centers around the cars, it’s not just for the “gearheads.”
“It’s not your ordinary car show,” organizer Bernie Myers said. “There’s a pinup girl contest on Saturday, the Little Miss Jalopy and the Little Mr. Leadfoot contest on Sunday, and a flame-throwing contest where the cars shoot flames out of the tail pipes. ... A lot of people dress up from the ’50s. You meet a lot of interesting people. It’s worth going just to see the people.”
It’s the cars, though, that are the magnets that bring the crowds.
This is the fourth year for the Jalopy Fest, spearheaded by Myers and his wife, Marcia, after a fun discussion at a Streator drive-in cruise night with some friends and members of the Voodoo Kings Car Club.
The group had a passion for hot rods and decided they wanted to try putting on their own show in Morris at the speedway, which is in the Grundy County Fairgrounds.
They had about 200 cars the first year. This year, they expect 400 to 500.
“We started out small and slow,” Myers said. “Each year we get bigger and bigger. Most shows, you can show any kind of car. We’re geared toward the more traditional type of hot rods. Something your father might have built in the ’50s and ’60s.”
Vehicles allowed are only 1972 and older customs, and 1964 and older hot rods, motorcycles, and trucks built “in the spirit of the traditional era of hot rods and customs.”
They do not allow billet, exposed IFS, exposed fuel injection or nontraditional mag wheels.
Vintage model cars will also be on display all weekend, along with a selection of historic photographs from the past 100 years of racing.
The pinup contest also is a big draw at the festival. Melissa Adams of Joliet said she’s excited about being in the contest this year and has spent time at the speedway with her father and brother, who used to race midget cars there.
This will be Adams’ fourth pinup girl competition. She loves the genre just about as much as she loves hot rods.
“I’ve always had a love for vintage and pinup designs,” she said. “I love the old cars. I love anything with wheels, as long as they’re not modern. You can’t pass up a ’57 Chevy.”
Adams said she’s pulled up the website to check out her competition for the pinup girl contest and said she better do everything she can to be the best she can be.
“There’s a lot of beautiful girls who have signed up,” she said with a laugh. “I have to really bring my ‘A’ game to this.”
Myers said he’s looking forward to the fest and hopes to see old friends and meet new ones this year.
“I like getting to see everybody again and seeing them having a good time and having a cold beer and listening to some good music,” he said.
For more information about Jalopy Fest, visit www.jalopy-fest.com, call 815-941-2575 or email email@example.com.