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Capaha Antique Car Club celebrates a half century, hosts annual swap meet
From Model T's to Mercurys, members of the Capaha Antique Car Club have been sharing their enthusiasm for the classics for 50 years.
The club has expanded over the years to include about 80 members and more than 100 antique cars and trucks. Although some members personally own as many as 10 cars, club member Dave Jackson said ownership is not a necessity for club membership, only "a love of old cars."
Every year, the group travels across the Midwest participating in car shows and parades. Their most important events, however, take place at home in Cape Girardeau. Jackson said the group's biggest fundraising event was its annual Swap Meet in February. This year's event will be held today.
Held in the Arena Building near the SEMO District Fair grounds, vendors set up tables both inside and outside. Club members said that the number of swappers grows every year.
"About 2,500 people show up," said Jackson. "We charge a $1 admission for the inside, but the outside and the parking is free."
The swap features 50 vendors inside the arena and 250 vendors outside. Jackson said they feature a wide variety of both new and used parts.
Bill Dunning, a Capaha Antique Car Club member for more than 40 years and the indoor organizer for the swap meet, said the group never expected this event to expand so quickly.
"It started out in just the arena, then it got bigger so we went outside on the north end," said Dunning. "We filled up the north end, then started the south end, now it goes all the way around."
Club members said that vendors and swappers come to the meet from across the country, making it one of the largest and most popular events of its kind in the region.
"We usually have people come up from Arkansas and Tennessee," Dunning said. "But last year we had a few people come all the way from Texas and even Indiana."
The vendors were scheduled to arrive at the arena Saturday to begin setting up for the event today. Jackson said people show up as early as 6 a.m. to begin exploring the tables.
"They bring their flashlights and start looking around," said Jackson.
A portion of the money raised at each swap meet is donated to charity. Jackson said in previous years, the club has donated the money to support local children's sports teams. With high expectations for the 2013 meet, the group hopes to make an even greater contribution to another worthy cause.
The group's next big event will take place June 25. The Capaha Antique Car Club is one of the main sponsors of "The Great Race," a cross-country classic car rally that tests drivers' endurance, speed and navigation skills. Race participants will make a stop in Cape Girardeau, where Jackson and other club members will help direct traffic and park the cars, which will temporarily be available for public viewing.
The group also has started planning for its annual Fourth of July car show.
Dunning and Jackson said the car club has remained a strongly traditional group over the years; something both men believe has helped keep them together.
"It's just the camaraderie with this bunch of guys, and their wives, too," said Jackson. "The whole family gets involved and that keeps it going."
The Capaha Antique Car Club invites all members of the community to attend its annual meet at Arena Park today. A cafeteria selling warm beverages and food also will be available to attendants.
410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO