River Tales Classic Car Show brings old cars, crowds to downtown Cape

Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The River Tales Classic Car Show is held annually by the River City Rodders car club. (File photo)

For Danny Essner, a founder of the River City Rodders car club, classic cars are about nostalgia.

"Old cars are primarily a hobby for older guys," he says. "We started out when we were in our 20s, and we've kind of evolved. We're trying to relive our youth. Now we have the money (to spend on cars) we wanted to have when we were younger."

The club's annual car show, the River Tales Classic Car Show, has also evolved over its 35-year history. It was first held in the parking lot of the Town Plaza shopping center before moving to Capaha Park for many years. In 2007 the show moved downtown.

According to the club's website, one of the main reasons the Rodders relocated to downtown was to take advantage of the redevelopment that has occurred in the last several years.

Essner says it also gives people attending the car show -- especially wives of car enthusiasts -- more to do. "When you went to Capaha Park (for the car show), if you didn't want to look at cars, the only other thing to do was walk around the lagoon and feed the ducks," he says.

Downtown, on the other hand, has antique shops, the flood wall murals, the Red House, the Glenn House and other historic sites for families to enjoy.

Essner says classic cars "pretty much fill up downtown Cape" during the car show, with entries parked along Main Street and in the Hutson's parking lot.

"We probably have room for 250 cars potentially," Essner says. "We have around 200 (entries) when the weather's nice. When we have it filled up, it looks really cool. There are old cars everywhere and the streets are packed with people. It's a neat experience."

In addition to the cars, there will be food vendors, a couple craft vendors and a 50-50 drawing for the public. And, of course, a sound system will be playing oldies music all day long to, as Essner says, create ambience.

The River City Rodders don't charge admission for the car show, but any money raised goes back to the community.

"The biggest beneficiary is Toybox," Essner says. "We buy about 20 bicycles from car show proceeds."

Want to go?

The River Tales Classic Car Show will be Sunday, Sept. 16, in downtown Cape Girardeau. Registration for entries ends at noon.

Want to see the cars in action?

The River City Rodders will host a car cruise from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Capaha Park. There will be free hot dogs and cold drinks, oldies music and a chance to swap stories with other car enthusiasts.

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