Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

ACD Festival revs up for the return of classic cars

Festival opens doors to visitors Aug. 28-Sept. 4

Published August 18, 2021

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival starts its engines on Saturday, Aug. 28, and cruises through the following weekend, ending on Saturday, Sept. 4.

2021 marks 65 years for the festival, which is a worthy celebration after COVID-19 concerns led to its cancelation in 2020.

Grand Marshal

Lyn St. James, former IndyCar Series driver, will be the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival grand marshal this year, something that Leslie Peel, executive director of the festival, believes will draw festival goers.

Festival goers will have the opportunity to meet St. James on Friday, Sept. 3, and Saturday, Sept. 4, from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in the Gallery of Racers and Record-Setters. Check for updated museum admission prices.

St. James’ role as grand marshal compliments the festival’s 2021 theme, The Roaring ’20s, featuring Women Behind the Wheel. The former racer was the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award, and one of only nine women to qualify for the annual race in its history.

“We realize that as people age with their cars, we need to get more people involved in that car culture,” Peel said. “So, we really try to have events that attract a younger demographic.”

Attracting Younger Crowds

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival has adapted to the younger demographic through social media outreach and their publication, Auburn. Peel also said monthly “cruise-ins” during the summer have seen a broader demographic roll into the museum’s events.

“We see a lot of people, really locally, who maybe have never been to the festival,” she said. “It’s a good chance for us to do some outreach and say, ‘Hey we do other things, not just over Labor Day weekend.’”

The big draw for the festival is the Parade of Classics, which is parade of ACD Club members’ cars. It will begin on Saturday, Sept. 4, at 1 p.m. Sticking with the festival theme, the Ladies of the ACD Club will be behind the wheel of the historic vehicles.

“People don’t realize that this is one of the biggest areas of automotive creation in the early 1900s,” Peel said. “I don’t think people realize all that history that’s right here, and when you see it rolling down the street, I just think it really gets you involved.”

Early Events

The 2021 “Cheers to the Festival” fundraiser and live auction revs up on Saturday, Aug. 28, from 6-9 p.m. Find more information about the event and purchase tickets through the festival website.

The Miss Auburn Cord Duesenberg Pageant takes place on Sunday, Aug. 29, from 4-6 p.m. at Country Heritage Winery in LaOtto. Go to to enter the pageant. Spectators can idle at the event free of charge.

Fans of early Fords can get their hands on parts and memorabilia at the first annual Early Ford V-8 Foundation Fall Swap Meet from 9 a.m.-9 p.m., from Sept. 2-5. The event is free for spectators and takes place at the foundation’s Auburn museum. For more information, visit

Friday Events

Friday’s early birds can feast on a pancake and sausage breakfast from 7-10 a.m. at the NATM North parking lot. Donations to support the NATM are appreciated for the breakfast.

Keeping with the Roaring ’20s theme, the Auburn Moose Lodge will host a speakeasy on Friday, Sept. 3, at noon at the Auburn Moose Family Center.

On Friday, Sept. 3, festival goers can take advantage of the popular $2 ice cream scoops from 5-8 p.m. near the main stage.

The festival will feature concerts where a number of bands will perform free of charge. Whoa, Man!, Hubie Ashcraft, and more will perform from 6-11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at the courthouse square.

Saturday Events

For those looking to get more active at this year’s festival, a 5k race will be held on Saturday, Sept. 4. Race day registration begins at 8 a.m., and runners will take off from the intersection of 16th and Main Sts. at 9 a.m. Early registration by Aug. 17 is available for $20, and regular registration will cost $25. Visit or to register.

Families with kids 12 and under can participate in the children’s parade on Saturday, Sept. 4, at noon. Bikes, trikes, wagons, scooters, roller skates, skateboards, and similar transportation are welcome at the event unless it is motorized. More information on registration and waivers can be found at the festival website.

This year also marks the festival’s second Ticket to Ride event. On Saturday, Sept. 4 from 4-6 p.m., festival goers have the opportunity to ride in classic cars for free. Check-in for the event is at the State Farm tent, where participants will receive an event wristband. Donations for local non-profit organizations are appreciated at the event.

Another free concert, this time featuring Rekt and Big Caddy Daddy, will take place at the courthouse square from 6-11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4.

The Gatsby Gala Ball, featuring live big band music and a cash bar, takes place on Sept. 4 from 7-11 p.m. at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. Tickets are $30 for members and $50 for non-members. Tickets for the gala can be purchased online at

The City of Auburn and the classic car community go hand-in-hand. On Sept. 4 and Sept. 5, a 15-passenger air-conditioned bus will leave from the DeKalb County Fairgrounds at Union and 11th streets for a tour of historic Auburn. These $5 tours last 45 minutes and will be offered four times on both Saturday and Sunday.

“People are just so excited to get out. People love the town of Auburn,” Peel said. “It’s a great community, we love sharing it with people.”

For more information and to see all of the events featured by the week-long festival, visit


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