For car enthusiasts of northern Indiana, the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival is an exciting opportunity to view and even ride in classic automobiles of all years and models — all while also supporting and participating in the local community.
Running from August 25 until August 31, this weeklong festival holds events that everyone in the family will love (even if they are not a car enthusiast).
Connecting with Cars
Amber Jackson, executive director for the festival, commented on how the festival and corresponding auction shapes the community in a recent interview with Whatzup.
“When people think of the ACD festival, the car show starts coming in May and June, and then it’s like, ‘Hey, the Auburn festival is just around the corner.’ For a lot of people, especially locally, after the Fourth of July is when it comes on people’s radars.”
With three years of experience as the executive director under her belt, Jackson did not always anticipate her career shift to the classic car world.
Coming from a marketing position with Peter Franklin, Jackson entered this position after being sought out for her excellent work — but not due to her initial passion for cars.
“I wasn’t raised a car enthusiast,” she said. “We grew up pretty poor in southside of Waynedale. So you have your cars that you can afford at the time, but there was a disconnect between people that have the great cars and everybody else.”
But now, one of the greatest joys about Jackson’s job is connecting with the car companies that participate in the festival and the incredible kindness that they show.
“I always tell people if you work in this industry of promoting classic car culture and you don’t enjoy it, you’re doing it wrong.”
Even more events
Boasting its 63rd year this year, this festival shows no signs of slowing down. 2016 hit a record year between auction and downtown event goers, averaging around nearly 9,600 event goers.
Given the popularity of the event, participants can anticipate several newer events.
One such event is Dekalb Stars, where dance participants can select their nonprofit of choice, and all raised proceeds go to the nonprofit.
“There is no real winner,” Jackson said. “Every dollar for a vote goes to the nonprofit.”
While some may scratch their heads at how a fundraising dance can tie to a classic car show, it all ties back to drawing in on a sense of community and education about the culture.
“Music definitely brings people together as much as cars, but we use music as an entry point to show that you might not have fallen in love with cars. But so many people love music, you can continuously reintroduce people to car culture through different means.”
Another new and exciting event was spearheaded by Jackson herself. For fans of the show American Pickers, one of the stars, Robbie Wolfe, will be making an appearance to participate in a live picking. Called “Live Picking at the Plaza,” this event will provide a living experience for fans of the series as well as antiques.
These newer events are tied in with a variety of festival favorites including the Open Car Cruise-In on August 30 and Saturday’s parade of model Duesenbergs.
Another exciting returner is the Ticket to Ride, where festival goers can ride for free in a variety of 20 makes and models.
Welcome to car culture
“We find these entry points where we can introduce people to car culture and let people have a conversation with these people, who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet in your life,” Jackson said. “It’s all about building an experience, any way we can do that.”
For those interested in the festival but still unsure about the car culture, never fear. Other beloved and returning events include the Market on Sixth Street, Gatsby Gala Ball, Miss ACD Pageant, an airplane ride in a 1930 standard biplane, and a variety of food and drink selections.
Incorporating and implementing all of the moving parts is never a small feat. Plans for next year’s festival are already slowly developing, with an anticipated “hit the ground running” date scheduled within weeks of the end of the 2019 festival.
“I have already had two conversations with car clubs about what we are doing this year, our implementation of that, and how we can make 2020 even better,” Jackson said.
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