116 cool cars on show

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Earl Hailey takes a look at a 1971 Ford Mustang during the Crusin’ on the River car show Saturday at Vidalia’s Riverfront.

NATCHEZ — More than 100 antique cars kicked up a little dust and lots of pleasant memories as they drove through the judge’s tent at the ninth annual Crusin’ on the River Car Show on the Vidalia Riverfront.

Robert Maples, one of the car show’s organizers, said 116 cars — vintage and new alike — were registered to be judged this year.

Halfway through the day, Maples said approximately 750 to 1,000 spectators had stopped by to admire the hot rods, lowriders, motorcycles and antique trucks. Some car enthusiasts even traveled from as far away as Jasper, Texas to attend the show.

Maples, the owner of a 1969 Chevelle himself, said nostalgia is why people come from miles around to look at cars.

“That’s probably why older folks like the older cars,” Maples said. “That’s what they were raised with.”

Roxie resident Roger Byrd, owner of a 1955 Chevy truck on display at the show, was quick to agree.

“People come up and say, ‘My dad, or, my uncle had one of those. I wish we hadn’t sold it,’” Maples said.

Byrd said he has been participating in the Crusin’ on the River show, and others in the region, off and on for years. He is also the owner of a 1954 Chevy truck.

“I have a tendency to love old vehicles,” Byrd said. “You ride around and get compliments.”

Byrd said even though classic car restoration can be an expensive hobby, it is an avenue worth driving.

“It takes a little time — and a lot of money — but one day it will be well worth that time and money,” Byrd said. “And once (your vehicle) is restored, it doesn’t lose value. The value goes up.”

Maples said vehicles at the show were judged on four components — undercarriage, under hood, interior and body/paint. He said the tallies are entered into computer software that calculates the scores.

Dewey Blanton and his 9-year-old son Austin were all smiles as they admired cars on the riverfront. Blanton, who works at Alexander Body Shop in Natchez, said he and Austin are car enthusiasts.

Blanton is also the owner of a 1969 Mustang, among other vehicles.

“My mom and dad bought it brand new,” Blanton said. “I still have it, it’s put up, but I’m debating on fixing it up.”

Blanton said that Austin hinted at wanting the car for himself someday.

“After AYA football (is over), we might start working on it,” Blanton said.