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Iola Car Show announces celebrities

Al Leonard of Pickford, Michigan, polishes his 1958 Edsel Corsair last year during the Iola Car Show. Leonard’s car was part of an exhibit centered around the 1973 movie “American Graffiti.” Greg Seubert Photo

1950s cars, culture theme for this year

By Holly Neumann

“The Unforgettable Fifties” is the theme of this year’s Iola Car Show, scheduled for July 6–8 in Iola.

“The 1950s had a very recognizable style and flair shortly before the muscle car era,” said Joe Opperman, the show’s executive director. “Big fins and lots of chrome were commonplace, as were luxurious interiors and evolving technologies. It’s easy to spot a car or truck from that era and like many things, they have proven to be timeless designs that are still very much desirable today.”

In addition to cars, the show has made a habit of including figures from pop-culture, TV and movies. 

“This has really become a fan favorite and helped attract a broad audience,” Opperman said. “We recently announced the inclusion of television icon Jerry Mathers, who played the Beaver on the beloved ‘Leave it to Beaver’ show, which was first introduced to audiences in 1957. He is a natural fit in that lineup.”

The Iola Car Show is about the closest thing to time-travel that exists, according to Opperman.

“It’s a real thrill to be able to meet and interact with figures from their youth,” he said.

Other new faces at this year’s show include Dennis Anderson and Derek Bieri.

“Dennis Anderson is a headliner from a slightly different space,” Opperman said. “He is famously known as a professional monster truck driver and is the creator and former driver of Grave Digger, one of the best-known trucks in the business. He’s still heavily involved in the industry and will be appearing with his current truck, King Sling. If everything goes to plan, he will also unveil a very special custom Mega Truck he’s built for a good friend of his who resides in Marshfield.”

Bieri will represent some of the younger crowd interests. 

“Derek is the host and operator of Vice Grip Garage, landed a TV deal with MotorTrend and is featured in their show ‘Roadworthy Rescues,’” Opperman said. “He’s a great entertainer and talented mechanic best known for his budget builds, rescues and how-to’s for common folk. Derek will interact with the crowd and swap vendors as he does a three-day vehicle rescue live in front of crowds here at the show.”

Returning to the show this year are Bill Stull, Jo Coddington, Greg and Leah Stelse and Von Hot Rod.

“Greg and Leah Stelse, Bill Stull, Jo Coddington and Von Hot Rod represent well-known industry talent,” Opperman said. “They are celebrity personalities at shops and automotive events throughout the country. These are folks whose talents helped them stand out and whose personalities and hearts for helping others have really made them mainstays. They understand what we’re about and want to be a part of it.

Also returning to the show are Emily Reeves and Butch Patrick.

“Emily Reeves has become a great friend of the show and acts as our official on-camera host, a job that suits her very well,” Opperman said. “She and her husband operate Flying Sparks Garage and have been included in a number of other productions.”

Patrick is known for playing Eddie Munster on “The Munsters” in the 1960s and has had a long and successful acting career. 

“He’s a regular at all sorts of conventions,” Opperman said. “He’s a car guy who loves to interact with the crowd.”

The musical lineup for Thursday, July 6, includes the Cutaways in the afternoon, followed by an early evening performance by Ember.

The scheduled for Friday, July 7, includes the Doo Wop Jukebox and Road Trip.

The stage on Saturday, July 7, will include the Miss Iola Pinup Contest at noon and an evening concert by Star Six Nine. 

“We have an awesome musical lineup planned for the show,” Opperman said. “We are still hoping to add a little more and are working to add another performance to Saturday’s lineup.”

Other special features and entertainment have yet to be announced.

Iola Old Car Show Inc. is a nonprofit organization.

“We expect the volunteer group payouts this year will push our cumulative payouts to volunteer groups past the $9 million threshold since incorporation in the 1980s,” Opperman said.

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