Wichita has lots of car shows each year.
But one of the biggest and longest-running happens every January and fills Century II – all of Century II – with hundreds of hot rods, muscle cars and restored vintage vehicles from around the country.
Here’s a list of 10 reasons you might want to check out this weekend’s 58th annual Starbird-Devlin Rod & Customs Charities Car Show, which runs Friday through Sunday.
1. Cars, cars and more cars: This year’s show will be filled with 380 cars, many of which have traveled from a 200 mile radius and some that have come from as far away as California, Detroit and Minnesota. It’s a varied collection of classic cars, all restored to their original glory, and in many cases, even better than that. “You can’t hardly believe what you’re going to see until you come and see it,” said John Fry, a board member and one of the promoters of the show. “It’s kind of interesting to see a ’57 Chevy that has 1,000 horsepower. It’s some pretty wild stuff.”
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2. The “Magnificent Seven:” The highlight of the show is the unveiling of “The Magnificent Seven,” which judges deem the best, most exciting cars that have never before been shown in Wichita. The seven finalists, which will divvy up $14,000 in prize money, are revealed on Saturday, and they’ll be ranked during a 4 p.m. awards ceremony on Sunday. Last year’s winner was a completely restored 1957 Chevy Pickup from Oklahoma that was painted silver and finished with chrome. It’s featured on the show’s t-shirts and promotional materials this year. Magnificent Seven finalists often are cars that are valued in the millions.
3. It’s all for charity: In 2011, a group called Cars for Charities Co., made up of father and son Tom and Tim Devlin, Dick Price and brothers Carl and John Fry, bought the show from longtime owner Darryl Starbird. Their goal was to make the show a completely for-charity event, and they’ve done that. Last year, the show raised $115,200, and the Arc of Sedgwick County, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Starkey Inc. each received a check for $38,400. Those three charities also will be recipients of this year’s proceeds. Over the first three years, the group has raised $274,000 and has a goal to raise $150,000 more this year.
4. Kids are (more than) welcome: The new organizers want the car show to be a family event. When they took over, not only did they make tickets free for children ages 11 and under, but they also added a free “Kid Zone” that allowed children to put together make-and-take cars. There’s also face painting, a scavenger hunt and coloring stations. The Kid Zone is open from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday. And on Saturday night from 5 to 8 p.m., Century II will discount kids meals for $4 and $5.
5. Everyone else will be there: The show draws big crowds. Last year’s event drew 20,000 paying adults, and organizers estimate that 5,000 children also attended during the three-day run.
6. Hear live music performed by doctors: A group called On Call, made up of doctors who moonlight as musicians, will provide live music Saturday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. and again from 6 to 8 p.m. The group, which plays classic rock covers, volunteers its time for the event.
7: Check out cars in comfort: Of Wichita’s biggest car shows, including Automobilia in July and Blacktop Nationals in August, the Starbird-Devlin show is the most temperate. Because it’s all indoors, people can spend time checking out the cars without fear of heat exhaustion, bug bites or rain.
8. Lots of car gear for sale: The car show also will feature many car vendors selling merchandise for serious car enthusiasts, from tires to tools to chrome attachments, as well as items for more casual shoppers, like toy cars and car art.
9. Discount tickets are available: Those who stop at a local QuikTrip store before heading to the show can get $1 off each tickets. The regular price is $12 for adults, $20 for couples, $6 for ages 12 to 17 and free for children 11 and younger.
10. Get some classic car advice: The people who bring their cars to the show also tend to camp out with them and are more than happy to answer questions from curious spectators or offer advice to other car enthusiasts. Danny and Cheryl Boyes, for example, are bringing their white 1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which they bought brand new as a family car and then restored once their daughter graduated from college. They’ll park it next to members from their car club, the Mulvane Marauders, and Cheryl said the couple looks forward to talking with the crowds. “I think that is the best part of all is that you can go, and you may win an award and you may not win an award, but the fun part for us is listening to people come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh. I had one of those’ or ‘My dad had one of those.’”
Starbird-Devlin Rod & Customs Charities Car Show
What: 58th annual car show featuring 380 cars from around the country
When: Noon to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Where: Century II Convention Center, 225 W. Douglas
How much: $12 adults, $20 couples, $6 ages 12-17, free for ages 11 and under. Tickets are available for $1 cheaper at local QuikTrip stores