Visitors remember Chet Krause
By Holly Neumann
The 44th annual Iola Car Show is now in the books and without a doubt, this little town has put on a big show once again, and everyone seems to have had a good time.
Vendors who were lined up in the staging area, spoke about Chet Krause and why they like coming to Iola.
First in line was Nettie Johnson, of St. Paul, Minnesota.
“I have been coming to the show for over 25 years,” said Johnson. “Chet was a customer of ours, so we came here for his funeral on Friday and parked the bus in line to hold our place. We went home after the funeral and came back on Tuesday night.”
Johnson said that she likes the people here and hopes that Krause’s legacy continues for years to come.
Les Manske, of La Crosse, agreed.
“I have been here for 15 years now,” he said. “Chet was a great guy, an over-all nice person. He did a lot for this community and was a real leader.”
Manske, who considers himself a collector, was selling pedal tractors, signs and more.
“I love coming here because of the people,” he said. “This is rural America, the backbone of our country. This is what it is all about.”
One of the featured areas of the car show is the Team to Learn tent.
Fred Beyer, a retired auto shop teacher, is one of the founders.
“My students have built cars like some of the ones you see here,” said Beyer. “People were always asking how it was done. So instead of telling my story a 100 times in a day, the Team to Learn Tent was started, so I could talk to large crowds.”
Beyer, who acts as the host of the area, feels that this tent is important as it gives a chance for people to learn about the background of things.
“You get a chance to learn who the people are that are doing the restorations and hear their story,” he said. “We want to get young people involved in this hobby and tell them it is obtainable. You can make a fixer upper special again and make it your own.”
One of the people joining Beyer at the Team to Learn tent was special guest William “Red” Lewis.
“It is so important to preserve cars because they are a piece of art,” said Lewis. “Young people have to know what their mothers and fathers used to drive in.”
According to Lewis, he takes his collector cars out for drives on a regular basis.
“I have cars from the ‘40s and ‘50s,” he said. “We drive them around town and it gets people talking. People need to see the uniqueness of each automobile. They are beautiful.”
Showing his car at the Iola Car Show for the first time was Kent West of Decatur, Illinois.
West, along with two of his brothers, each pitched in $50 to purchase a 1955 Chevy Belair Convertible, in 1966.
“We knew a lady in our neighborhood, who bought the car for $2,300 in 1955,” said Kent. “One day her husband called up and said ‘I know you have liked my car, do you want to buy it?’ Apparently his wife had gotten a lot of speeding tickets with the car and he wanted to get rid of it.”
West was 16 at the time.
“We drove that car through high school, and I took it to college, but when I moved to Chicago in 1982, I left the car in Decatur,” he said.
West hauled the car around for a few of the years that followed, then parked it in a field, where it stayed until last year.
“Last year in March, a guy saw it sitting in a field and offered to buy it,” said West. “I asked him why. I almost fell over when he told me it could be worth $90,000 if it were fixed up. I didn’t sell and decided to put about $20,000 into it and brought it home to my wife as a surprise on Easter 2016.”
He laughed when she asked what else he was keeping from her.
“She thought it was sitting in the field rusting,” he said. “Best secret I ever had.”
John Nygard, of Green Bay, also shows cars in Iola, but that was not what he was talking about this year.
“I have been coming to the show for 37 years,” he said. “This year I won a truck. I couldn’t believe it.”
Nygard entered a drawing for a 1996 Chevy pick-up from Rawhide and won.
“We never win anything,” said his wife Joann. “We donated a car to Rawhide a few years ago. I guess everything comes around full circle.”
New to the car show this year, was the addition of concerts on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Among the performances was Resurrection, a tribute band to Journey, on Friday night.
Ryan Christopher, lead singer of the group, said they were honored to be able to play.
“Out of 44 years of history, this is the first they have done live music and they invited us,” said Christopher. “We were really happy to see the amount of people come out too. We weren’t sure being the first year, but they came out in droves, they sang and they clapped along, it was great.”
According to Christopher, Journey’s music is timeless, and the fans could not agree more.
“This was awesome,” said Susan McNamara, of Iola. “Once the word gets out, this can only get bigger and bigger.”
“It’s going to be a big hit in the future,” added Monte Dannettelle. “It was a great way to add to the car show. Great cars and great music, it doesn’t get any better.”
With the addition of some family fun events as well, even the children had a good time.
Clara Danielson, 5, was visibly shaking with excitement when she got to meet characters Anna and Elsa from the Disney Movie Frozen. All she could do was smile from ear to ear and shake her head yes, when asked if she was having a good time.
Zack Jeffers, 10, loved looking at the Speeder Bike similar to the one found on Star Wars.
“That bike was awesome,” he said. “And having some of the characters here made it even better, like you were right in the movie.”
Even Miss Wisconsin Courtney Pelot shared her thoughts about the show.
“This is my first trip to the Iola Car Show and it’s much bigger than I thought,” she giggled. “My grandpa used to have a ton of old cars. My favorite was a Corvette that we used to go get donuts in on Sunday morning. I am looking forward to seeing some of those and a whole lot more.”
Gene Dutcher, of Ohio, seems to sum it up best.
“The Iola Car Show does not make Iola,” he said. “Iola makes the car show. Good people, great volunteers from the surrounding area and community members making this happen. It’s a small little treasure that you can all be proud of.”
The 2017 Iola Old Car Show theme will be the 50th anniversary of the Camaro and Firebird, in addition to Trans-Am Series Ponycars. Show dates will be July 6-8.