For many people the Iola Old Car Show has different meanings.
It’s a chance for local organizations to make some money, for others a reunion with old friends that have parked in their yard for years and for some it is simply their love of old cars.
But for Roger Mrdutt and Amy Wright, of Siren, it had a whole new meaning this year. It was a time to celebrate their love for one another.
“We met on an on-line dating service,” said Roger. “I had posted on my profile with all the interests that I have, including a love for old cars. When Amy and I started talking, she asked me about my interest in cars and said ‘I bet you will never believe where I grew up?'”
“When she told me Iola, I said ‘no way!’ I could not believe it,” he said.
Mrdutt, along with close friends, have been visiting the Iola Old Car Show since the early 1990s.
Eventually Roger and Amy started dating and found that they had a lot in common.
“I have never seen my dad so happy,” said Roger’s daughter Jennifer Germain.
“They have the same high energy and drive,” said Lisa Roberston, a close friend of Amy’s. “They really complement each other.”
And so, on the six-month anniversary of their first date, Amy said to Roger, “I’ve got a question for you. Will you marry me?”
“Yep, she asked me first,” Roger laughed, “but I wanted to be the one to pop the question.”
Two-weeks later a proposal followed from him.
“Our friends Dan and Jeanni Kunkel had moved to North Carolina and we were on our way to visit them when I asked her to marry me,” Roger said. “We went ring shopping that night in North Carolina.”
When it came time to plan their wedding, the couple decided there was no better place to do it than the car show, when they knew all their friends and family would be in town.
“The car show is kind of the focal point of our summer,” said Roger. “Amy is from Iola and our friends from North Carolina come here. This was a way for them to make the journey and make both events.”
“It’s exciting and it’s the perfect place for us,” he said.
“I was not sure I was going to make it (to the Iola Old Car Show) this year,” said Dan Kunkel. “This helped seal the deal.”
“It’s a perfect fit for Roger and Amy,” said Jeanni Kunkel.
Amy admits that at first her mother, Shirley Shuda of Iola, was not thrilled with the idea about them getting married on car show weekend.
“It took some time, but I convinced her that it was going to be small and simple and that everything would be okay,” Amy said.
“I admit at first I panicked, knowing how tough parking can be,” said Shuda. “But now I am very excited. Roger and Amy make a great pair and they have so much in common.”
It was evident that everyone agrees that Roger and Amy are an amazing couple and everyone was very excited to be there for them.
Even Brooklynn, 8, and Isabelle, 5, were excited. Not only were they flower girls for the wedding, they were gaining a new grandma as well.
And so, the planning began.
“To make the wedding happen, we had a few phone calls to make first,” said Roger. “We called the car show to see if they could give us the name of a pastor in the area and if there was a problem with us getting married at the campground.”
“The person on the phone stated that they did not see a problem with that and asked the names of the people getting married,” said Amy.
To their surprise, the voice on the other end asked, “Is this the Amy Wright I taught in school?” Their call was answered by Colleen (Sykes) Smith, a former teacher of Amy’s.
“Talk about a small town,” they laughed.
Finally on the day of the ceremony, with approximately 30 people in attendance, they wed.
It was far from a traditional ceremony.
With soft music playing in the background, Amy stepped out of a camper to walk down the aisle lined with camping chairs, wearing cowboy boots and a dress that she purchased from a thrift shop for $1.50. Her veil was the very same one her mother wore when she married her father in 1966.
“Amy is a very thrifty shopper,” said Roger. “We found this dress at a thrift shop and it was just her size.”
“At first I said, I don’t need a dress,” said Amy. “But it turned out to be perfect for today.”
As Pastor Mark Sabin of the Scandinavia Lutheran Church read passages chosen by the couple, the car show shuttles were passing in the back ground. On one occasion, the passengers clapped as they passed and on another the shuttle driver slowed down to take pictures.
Jim Johnson of La Crosse was riding on one of those shuttles and decided to walk back and watch.
“Today would have been my 58th anniversary to my wife, Mary,” Johnson said. “She passed away two years ago. It’s nice to see a couple of kids getting married on the very same day.”
Once neighboring campers realized what was going on, they too came to watch and take pictures of the event.
“I’ve been camping out here by Roger for seven years,” said Jim McGrath of Sheboygan. “This is the first wedding I have seen out here. I wish them the best of luck.”
The shuttle driver even came back after the ceremony and gave the entire wedding party a ride around the show grounds.
And when it came to say ‘I do,’ no one could have planned the moment better.
Pastor Sabin looked at Amy and said, “Amy do you take Roger to be your husband?” Before she could answer, another shuttle passed in the background and someone yelled “I do.”
Everyone in attendance shared a laugh.
The ceremony continued and finally their vows were sealed with a kiss.