BELLVILLE — Hundreds of people gathered Monday at the American Legion Park on Labor Day to admire vehicles of all eras during the annual holiday car show sponsored by the Bellville American Legion Post 535.
Car owners wishing to register their vehicles for the show started showing up bright and early, with nearly 50 cars already signed up by 9 a.m. By noon, the plark was packed and rockin’ to oldies tunes being played by a DJ.
Legion Commander Larry Webb said the car show has been going on since 1998 and has become a crowd favorite for many. “We have about 160 cars here today, which is about average,” Webb said. “There are a couple other shows going on in the area so we had a little competition.”
The award table was crowded with trophies that were to be awarded Monday with Webb saying they would be handing out around 52 trophies to car owners.
“I also have a few car buffs walking around and we hand out what we call our ‘favorite 50’,” Webb said
The car show is a big fundraiser the legion puts on every year with proceeds going to veterans to take part in Honor Flights and also the Honor Bus.
“They also take veterans to Washington on the bus and that’s a three day trip,’ Webb said. “They stop in Pennsylvania where the plane went down (on 9/11) before heading on to Washington. They just started that here in Richland County and we started that with part of our fundraising. We also do a golf outing every year which goes toward the Honor Flights and the Honor Bus.
“Basically, depending on the crowd, we try to give each of them $1,000,” Webb said. “It costs about $300 per veteran to go on the trips.” He noted there are applications at the legion for veterans who are interested in either the Honor Flight or Honor Bus (program).
“This is a good thing we do, and we also have a program called Gifts for the Yanks. We raise money every year for that, too,” Webb said. “The club itself probably donates between $20,000 and $30,000 a year to different charities,” Webb said. “We’ve also have a veterans fund where we help out veterans who are in need and their families. We get a lot of bad rap…these veterans clubs. They say it’s just a place to go drink and carouse, but we do a lot of good things.”
Bellville resident Douglas Keppler was spotted cleaning up his bright orange 1970 VW convertible Beetle at the show Monday, and said he enters the vehicle at several shows throughout the year.
Keppler said he got the car in the middle ’80s and had it restored.
“I have Volkswagen in my DNA I think,” Keppler joked. ” I own two other Volkswagons, too. I have a 2016 and I just leased a 2019, and my 2019 is this orange color. too. My brother had a Volkswagon and I always kind of liked it. I’ve had probably four others over the years, two other Beetles and I had a Gulf for awhile. I just like Volkswagons.”
Keppler said he’s received three awards this year at various car shows in the area. “It’s doing well this year,” he said.
Dick Mowry, also from Bellville, entered the car show this year with his 1960 — all original pink — Surrey Jeep Willy. s
“They made about 1,083 of them, and we’ve only found 17 left. This one and one other are all original,” Mowry said. “All the others have been restored.”
Mowry said his wife had the Willys when she was in high school and they found the one they currently own on eBay about 12 years ago in Des Moines, Iowa, and they drove all the way there to get it.
“I like this because it’s different,” he said. “There is a little bit of history sitting here. A lot of people wonder why we would paint a Jeep pink. But we didn’t, it came out of the factory this way.
“It still purrs right along,” he said. ” We went up to Wakeman with it … drove it up there. And then Saturday we went over to Lucas. It runs good. Last fall we had it in Asheville, North Carolina, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and we’ve had it on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey. Next weekend we’ll be going to Missouri.
“I like going to the car shows to meet all the people and listen to the music,” Mowry said.