By Martin Slagter Kokomo Tribune
---- — It may still be more than two years down the road, but Indiana’s “City of Firsts” will put its automotive heritage on display during a week-long celebration held in conjunction with the state’s Bicentennial in 2016.
The Kokomo Automotive Museum has been endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission to host a weeklong celebration. The celebration, which has not yet been pinned down for a specific date, will likely be either the second or final week in September.
It will conclude with three days of special events in the city, from Friday through Sunday, highlighting Kokomo’s automotive heritage with three special car shows featuring many automobiles manufactured in Indiana.
Kokomo Automotive Museum Director of Development Jeffrey Shively said the museum and city will not receive funding from the state for the event, but will instead be a part of a statewide celebration during the Bicentennial that highlights each of the state’s 92 counties with special events.
“Car buffs are going to want to come to this show,” Shively said. “We’d like to be able to show people that this is the place to come for a big car show.”
Shively stressed the museum is only in the planning stages for the event, but said the celebration will likely begin with a three-day statewide driving tour featuring as many unique automobiles as possible to create a caravan traveling to different parts of the state with automotive history.
After the driving tour concludes, Shively said, there are plans for three events including “The Haynes-Apperson Reunion,” which will aim to attract owners of Haynes-Apperson automobiles to meet and greet in Kokomo.
“There are around 150 Haynes-Apperson automobiles left in the world,” Shively said. “We want to bring as many [cars] as we can back and have the owners meet each other. It will be a chance for a lot of people to hear what a 110 (to) 120-year-old car sounds like running.”
Other special events will include the “Indiana Grand Classic,” which will feature classic cars, including many manufactured in Indiana, from 1925 to 1948. Shively said the event will exclusively feature cars that have received “classic” status from the Classic Car Club of America.
The final event, the “Indiana Bicentennial Concours d’Elegance,” will be a “beauty contest” featuring rare and beautiful classic cars from all over the world.
Shively said he hopes the events also will allow visitors and residents to tour local historic automobile sites or take a factory tour of Chrysler throughout the course of the week.
While venues and many of the details of the event are yet to be finalized, Shively sees the celebration as another opportunity to honor Kokomo’s automotive heritage.
“If we advertise it right, there’s no reason we can’t bring in 10,000 people throughout the week from across the state,” he said. “There’s huge economic impact potential for the visitors we’ll have coming in.”
Martin Slagter can be reached at 765-454-8570, email@example.com or on Twitter @slagterm.