TOWN OF BELOIT - There soon will be lawn chairs set up along Riverside Drive, and Preservation Park will be abuzz with activity.
The 41st annual Beloit Autorama is taking place from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. Vehicles of all makes, models and years will be cruising through town to be put on display.
Quite a few Stateline Area residents like to sit out and watch the cars travel down Highway 51 on their way to the show. Others go down to the park to get an up-close look. Many do both.
"We always hear that Autorama is one of the best car shows to go to," said Joe Chamberlain, Autorama event advisor. "Sometimes it's the only one that people will go to."
Autorama is one of the largest one-day car shows around. On a beautiful day there can easily be 1,000-1,200 cars on display and 5,000 spectators hungry for some polished chrome. Admission to the event is $6 for adults and $2 for kids ages 8-15. Kids under 7 are free.
The annual event is hosted by the Beloit Evening Lions Club, Coachmen Street Rod Club, Blue Ribbon Classic Chevy Club and Cranked Inc. Car Club. Other organizations, including the South Beloit Lions and the Lioness Club, also lend a hand by volunteering to help keep the event running smoothly and by operating their own concessions booths.
"We will have bratwurst, hamburgers, and hot dogs cooked over an open fire, along with cold beer and soft drinks," Chamberlain said of the fare.
Each year Autorama features a wide variety of vehicles, some of which visitors might not see anywhere else. Also taking place during the event is a car parts swap and a flea market. The "Car Corral," where classic cars for sale are on display, will be open for those who want to find a new ride. Music will be provided all day by 3D Sound Company.
The classes for competition include: Street Rod (pre-1949), custom, antique (pre-1949), stock classic (1949-1988), Corvette (stock and modified), stock and modified hi-performance (1949-1970), stock and modified hi-performance (1971-present), truck (all stock and modified), '55-'64 full size Chevy (stock and modified) and imports.
For visitors with a specific interest, Autorama organizers have made the show easy: all vehicles are grouped together by their class. There is no mix-and-match.
"That's nice so that if a person just likes a certain type of car they can go directly to that spot," Chamberlain said.
Every year there are handmade clock trophies presented to all car classes and for Best of Autorama. The 2017 creations feature stained glass and woodwork. The trophies are coveted by car enthusiasts because of their beauty and uniqueness. Competition is always fierce.
"My brother (Jim Chamberlain) makes the trophies and he's already thinking of ideas for next year," Chamberlain said.
Aside from being a fantastic, affordable day of entertainment, Autorama helps others. The past 40 events have raised nearly $830,066 for national and local charities.
Some of the beneficiaries include the Wisconsin Lions Camp, which welcomes visitors with visual impairments, the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels, Beloit Regional Hospice, Caritas, Easter Seals Camp, hospice and many others.
"The Lions Club motto is 'we serve' and that's what we're trying to do with Autorama," Chamberlain said. "We always try to benefit the community in any project we do."