The cars, the people and even the pie are among the reasons visitors give for attending the Iola Old Car Show.
“I came here with my dad for many years, now I continue the tradition with my son, Alex,” John Russ of Minnesota said.
Eleven year old Alex chimes in that he loves coming here too.
“This year Dad and I are going to look for a Mustang,” 11-year-old alex chimes in. “It’s going to be a fix-up car that we can work on together.” The elder Russ points out that he and his father bought a car together 16 years ago, fixed it up and drove it around. “It’s a memory that I treasure to this day and I want my son to have those same memories.”
“My husband Pat spends his time at the car show, but I love the rummage sales,” said Joyce Tallen of Illinois. “And, no trip to Iola is complete, without a piece of pie from Crystal Cafè. That has got to be the best pie that I have ever had.”
Chet Krause even has something to say about the show.
“This is fantastic,” said Chet Krause, who launched the first Iola Old Car Show 40 years ago. “Who would ever believe that it would amount to this? This is the highlight of my career.”
Krause added, “The credit does not go to me, but to all the 2,900-plus people and organizations that work at the show and to all the charities that benefit from it.”
“For 10 years my daughter and I came to the car show together,” said Bob Carls. “In 2004 she was eight months pregnant, so I figured that she would stay home that year. She didn’t! Her water broke while we were looking at an amazing car. I bet you cannot guess what kind of car it was?”
Turning to the little boy standing next to him,Carls, “This is my grandson, Lincoln.”
But not all the stories come from the car show grounds. David Christman and Larry Salo have been coming to the car show for 30 years.
“Fifteen of those years we have camped here by Mike and Brenda (Mazemke)” Christman said. “We have watched their kids grow up.”
They reflect for a moment about friend John Stegman who used to come to the show as well, but has since passed away.
“John restored pedal cars,” Solo said. “He would come to the show and look for parts.”
Stegman also had the opportunity to watch the Mazemke girls, Brittany and Megan, grow up. When Brittany was 5, Stegman mailed her a pedal car for Christmas. A few years later, one followed for Megan.
“For years we watched a guy come and go from the show hauling a variety of car parts he had purchased,” Scott Garbe said. “About four years ago, the man returned, with the T-Bird Convertible that he stored from those parts. It was pretty amazing.”
What would the car show be without a little fun? Mike Mazemke laughs as he tells the story of an older woman coming to them last year and saying that she should get a discount for parking in their yard. She was another victim to one of the “Mazether Parking Lot” prank.
“We had tied a money clip, with money in it, to the end of the line of a fishing pole,” Mazemke said. “We put the money in the road and waited for someone to pick it up.”
The woman fell for the prank and attempted to pick the money up, while the person on the other end started reeling it in.
After two unsuccessful attempts to get the money, she realized what was going on. The following year she let them know that she deserved a break on parking.
Tom Jarosch sums up best, “Iola, Wisconsin is the place to be. I have come here for the past 15 years. Sure there are great cars and, yes, it’s nice to find that car part you have been looking. But there is one thing that stands above all that.”
He points to various people, saying, “You ought to be proud to come from Iola. Look at all these people from your town. Look at the clubs and organizations from other communities that are working as well. It’s not just adults, but kids volunteer their time. It’s a great thing to see a small town like this come together for the greater good of the community. I am very proud that I can be a small part of this.”