For some the Iola Old Car Show is a tradition, for others a reunion of old friends. For everyone, there are memories to share.
Marissa Schilling, 9, of Milwaukee, was attending the car show for her second time.
“I think this is all pretty cool,” she said. “I like looking at the real old cars.”
Her favorite part of the show, however, are the pancakes.
“Uncle Pancake,” who has been making flapjacks at the show since 1986, was quickly flipping the flapjacks into the air for Schilling to catch on her plate.
“I was pretty nervous,” she said. “It was my first time having to catch my breakfast.”
People watched the show until Schillings plate was full and “Uncle Pancake” moved on to the next customer.
Phil De Greef, Pierre, South Dakota, has been coming to the show for the past 20 years.
“We have such a great time here,” he said.
De Greef is one of many vendors at the show.
“We rent out that same spot every year,” he said. “We get to see these people once a year. They come looking for you. It’s a weekend long reunion.”
De Greefs son Jon agrees.
“I have years and years of friendships out here,” he said.
The men, along with other friends, travel around Iola in a school bus.
“We had a great experience at the Crystal Café this morning,” said De Greef. “We were telling a couple of locals how it was hard to go rummaging in town, with a bus. To our surprise, they offered to take us around town. This is a great place to be.”
Frank Stevens comes to the show from Minneapolis to add to his collection of car show beer.
“I used to live in Wausau years ago and started collecting the cans,” he said. “I have to travel a little further now, but it is worth it. I am 79 years old and my son Mark has been here with me each year. I hope that he will always treasure those memories.”
“Don’t let my dad fool you,” said Mark. “Yes we have collected these cans for many years, but the real reason he comes here is for the cheese curds. No trip to Iola is complete without them.”
New to the show this year was lobster fest.
Lines wrapped around the tent while waiting for the feast.
Keary Ecklund and 30 volunteers prepared the meal.
“This lobster looks great,” said Betty Elbe. “’I’m just not sure how to get it out of the shell.”
“I think this is a great addition to the show,” said Tom Olson. “I think I will give it a try.”
“You can daddy,” said Olson 6-year old son Chase. “I’m not going to eat it, I’m afraid it might bite me back.”
Even the volunteers get noticed.
“I went to get a snack today, and a little girl named Malea waited on me,” said Westly Berk, Milwaukee. “I think she was about 8 or 9. It’s a great thing to see generations of people working here. Even the little ones are learning loyalty to their community.”
Many of the volunteers are veterans to the show.
“I have worked at the show for about 33 years,” said Shelly Kunzman. “Working with everyone is a lot of fun. Where else can you volunteer over 18 hours of time.”
“My son benefitted from the Winter Sports Club,” said Mary Lutz. “This is a great way to pay it back to the community.”
“I have worked at the show forever,” said Lola May Dalland. “I started when they were still doings Lion’s brats.”
So what keeps the volunteers coming back?
“Each year is a new experience,” said Dalland. “Once you start, it’s in your blood.”