The ACD Festival team is committed to honoring the legacy of this world-renowned event. But they are not afraid to mix things up a bit.
“There are many things that are still the same,” said ACD Festival Executive Director Amber Jackson. “We like to definitely pay homage to the tradition of why and how this started, but we do realize that we are working with a different demographic in younger people.”
Celebrating 62 years of the festival itself and 63 years since the inception of the ACD Club, this year’s festivities will bring plenty of history and tradition.
“So we still have the parade of classics and still do some of the same dinners and luncheons connecting people that used to work at the automobile company,” Jackson said.
Attendees are invited to travel back in time with events such as the Gatsby Gala Ball, the Friday Night Speakeasy, and of course, the Downtown Cruise-In.
Friday night is the main event for those who love tradition. The Downtown Cruise-In is the festival’s best-known attraction with a diverse mix of novelty cars parading through downtown Auburn with a crowd of spectators from all around the world.
In 2017, the ACD Festival brought in around 800 cars.
“Last year we had to close gates because we simply ran out of room,” Jackson said.
This dramatic increase in traffic could be a result of the ACD Festival’s efforts to reach a broader audience. Jackson told whatzup that her team put their heads together to come up with a creative way to make the festival attractive for all ages.
“The same thing that has combated most of the entertainment and marketing industries these days is that people have very short attention spans and commitment spans. So it’s like, OK, how can we bring younger people to this festival? How can we make them want to stay? What is going to get them excited enough to want to come here?”
As part of this initiative to cater to a younger demographic, the ACD Festival is jazzing up their Saturday night festivities with a Fast and Fabulous car show and concert.
Starting at 5 p.m., folks can enjoy modern luxury cars on display.
“We have high-level McLarens and Maseratis,” Jackson said. “We have a Porsche club coming in and that should bring about 20 very cool Porsches for people to see.”
If the thrill of exotic cars worth more than their education were not enough to bring out a young crowd, a free concert featuring northeast Indiana’s favorite artists is sure to pack downtown Auburn. Casual Friday, Big Caddy Daddy, and Addison Agen — famed contestant on The Voice — will take the stage to rock Saturday night at the ACD festival.
“It’s going to be (Agen’s) first free announced concert,” Jackson said. “She’s still performing and she is still ticketing, so we think the fact that we’re bringing a free concert is going to pull in a lot of people.”
It is hard to believe Friday and Saturday night are only part of the festival fun. With more than 40 different events during the week, there really is something for everyone.
“We try to stay about 90 percent the same and make sure we pay homage to that tradition, but then also change about 10 percent and acclimate to the exciting things that people are talking about and things that people want to do or see,” Jackson said.
From cars to dining to shopping to live music, the whole family can enjoy a day (or two or three or the whole week) at the festival.
According to Jackson, that is exactly what many families choose to do. Not only do families reconnect at the ACD Festival, but lifelong friendships are kindled as well.
“In the simplest form, it just becomes one big family reunion where you keep running into people that you’ve shared life with and shared stories with, and you get to bring that back for one weekend a year.”
For the folks who have come since the beginning, the festival means comfort and nostalgia. For those who are new to the scene, it is a unique and exciting cultural experience.
“It’s the past and the future all rolled into one.”
Jackson said the ACD team is excited to see the development in Auburn and is proud to be a part of making this a vibrant city.
“Auburn is a very small community, but I feel like it’s on such an amazing cusp of growth. They want to keep their small-town heart close to them, but they’re ready for culture.”
With this kind of cultural and economic advancement comes more options for entertainment. Jackson said she would encourage folks to experience each new opportunity and to make the ACD Festival one of them.
“Definitely if you’ve never been here before and you’ve never experienced it, you’ll have an amazing time while you’re here and you’ll definitely want to come back.”
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