Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Automobiles drive passion of car festival in Roanoke

Hundreds of classics will fill downtown area

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published July 14, 2021

Before cell phones, computers, and the internet, cars were even more integral for social interaction.

Though they have always been a means of getting us from Point A to Point B, automobiles once represented much more, as a sign of freedom or a chance to enjoy the drive alone or with friends.

On July 24, The Rolling Into Roanoke Car Show hopes to bring back those memories from yesteryear, if only for a day.

After talking with Rolling Into Roanoke Chairman Rick Fischer about the event, there’s no doubt that passion is what fuels the long hours of work he and his crew put into organizing this event every year.

Making Connections over Cars

In an interview with Whatzup, Fisher pointed out that there was a time when people connected over cars, but somewhere along the way it was lost.

Rolling Into Roanoke is one way he hopes to revive that feeling.

“Part of the thrill of a car used to be the drive and the performance,” he said. “There was also an artistic value to many of the cars of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s that all but disappeared for a while, though some of it is coming back as buyers demand more than a simple means of transportation. Now we’re getting back into the excitement of driving and the desire to drive again.”

Now in its eighth year, Rolling Into Roanoke began as a fundraiser for the Roanoke Beautification Foundation. Fischer said they were looking for ways to generate money to help enhance Roanoke when the idea of a car show was developed.

Since a lot of improvements have been made thanks to the help of funds raised from the annual car show, the event has become a nice opportunity to show off the town and what it has to offer.

“Roanoke has a nice small-town charm about it,” Fischer said. “And it is a nice destination for shopping, fine dining, and, really, just a nice getaway.”

Passion for Roanoke and Autos

Though his passion for Roanoke bubbles over, Fischer’s passion for cars dwarfs it tenfold.

“There are a lot of people who love cars the way they used to be because of the memories that they gave,” he said. “You talk to a lot of people, and it’s something they grew up with.”

Whether it’s a family association or something else that builds the affinity, Fischer said everyone has emotional connections to the cars on display in one way or another.

“This is a celebration of those memories,” he said. “When we put this together, we encouraged people — the owners as well as the public — to come appreciate and observe, but also talk to the owners and families to understand what the story is behind the vehicle and why they have such deep-rooted passion about it.”

Fischer encourages attendees of the event to take their time when walking through the rows of cars.

This will afford onlookers the opportunity to learn about each vehicle and to find out the passion behind them.

“There’s a story behind every car,” he said, “And everybody has an emotional connection to it in one way or another. So, this is a celebration of that and those memories.”

Premier Automobile Event

Considered by many car aficionados as one of the premiere automotive events in the area, Rolling Into Roanoke typically hosts upwards of 700 cars during the day. Many of these cars are privately held by collectors and seldom seen, making the event more focused on automotive appreciation and fundraising.

Fischer explains his goal: “Protecting automotive history through education and preservation, and educating the next generation to appreciate these cars, protect them, and maintain their history and heritage.”

This year’s theme for the event is “Made in Indiana” with cars manufactured by Studebaker, Auburn Cord, and International Harvester, who made the Scout.

There were more than 100 automotive manufacturers during the mid-1900s in the state of Indiana, which was known for building coaches in the late 1800s.

Many manufacturers were building buggies for horses. When steam-powered and gasoline-powered engines started being developed, those companies transitioned to car manufacturers.

Over time, they all went out of business or were swallowed up by the companies that eventually became the big three: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

The show begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m. Food trucks will be on site until 6 p.m.

The movies Cars, American Graffiti, and Hoosiers will be shown on a big screen on the ball diamond in Roanoke Park at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m., respectively.

Fischer said they try to make the event as family friendly as possible.

“We encourage people to bring the family to educate the younger generation,” he said. “There’s a story behind every car. Maybe they can find out why dad or grandpa were so emotionally attached to these cars. We love how the stories of all these things build family and community bonds.”

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