There will be the cars, as usual.
There will always be the cars.
That’s what the celebration, ultimately, is about: Auburn’s automotive history.
But along with the cars will be music.
So much music. More music than ever before.
There will be food.
Delicious street fare from several of the food trucks that have been crowding Fort Wayne streets in recent years.
And there will be free activities for the kids – bounce houses, an inflatable maze, a mock pit stop where they can change tires of a tiny car as well as an old Hudson and a firetruck for them to learn car-centric activities.
It’s all part of an approach to continue to draw even more than the 100,000 people who descend upon the tiny northern Indiana town of Auburn for the annual Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival and corresponding auctions that have become a staple of the Labor Day weekend.
There’s a lot more to do than just cars, said Sarah Payne, executive director of the festival, pointing out the gradual addition of activities surrounding the car celebration in recent years.
The festival has been adding more music acts over the past three or four years, Payne said. There will be three bands performing during this Friday’s already-popular cruise-in and three more after Saturday’s parade.
So even if you don’t like cars, people who are into rhythm and blues can hear the band Urban Legend perform Friday night or dance to cover tunes from Good Night Gracie the following night.
OmniSource is sponsoring a children’s area, where activities will include the bounce house and maze, and that’s where children can learn about the Hudson and the firetruck.
That area is free to all, Payne said, something that wasn’t so in recent years.
In the past we had to charge, but this year parents won’t feel like they’re being nickeled and dimed, Payne said.
Plus, there will be food trucks.
Festival officials are promoting the food trucks from the Fort Wayne Food Truck Association, several of which will be on hand with limited menus. And festival officials hope that by providing entertainment for everyone, they will create an atmosphere that people will return to for years to come.
The festival is always focused on celebrating Auburn’s automotive heritage, Payne said. In doing that, creating automotive fans of the future is important. This is helping solidify our place in the future.
We’re wanting to create more people who are loyal to the festival, she added.
But, there are still the cars.
The cars are the stars of the show, but there’s a lot more to do than just the cars, Payne said. Even if you’re not necessarily coming to buy a car or look at cars, there is tons to do.
If you are into cars, though, one of the highlights will be the work of Alan Leamy.
Leamy is this year’s featured designer, and his designs will be front and center during the festival’s parade Saturday and will be on display at various places all week.
Hired as the chief stylist for the Auburn Automobile Co. in 1928, Leamy is credited with designing the first front-wheel-drive car – the L-29 Cord – in the United States, according to ACD Festival guide.
In 1932, the Auburn 8-98 appeared with a 12-cylinder engine, adding 8 inches to an already long car, according to the guide.
Leamy gave the line a facelift by designing a center-split radiator design that changed radiator designs from simple rectangular boxes to a rounded opening that looked like a hole in the body, the guide said.
Leamy, who died at 33, has never been the featured designer for the festival.
He’s kind of one of those that’s been overlooked, Payne said.
Of course, if you’re into cars, you can find just about any type at the nearby Auctions America Auction Park just off Interstate 69.
Once the center of the Dean Kruse empire and a separate auction over the Labor Day weekend to coincide with the ACD Festival, the park has been run by Auctions America for the past few years.
This year, there will be a complete Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg lineup to match the ACD Festival.
A 1935 Auburn 851 supercharged speedster, a supercharged 1937 Cord 812 Sportsman and a 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ dual-cowl phaeton by LaGrande will all hit the auction block.
Auburn is a homecoming place for these cars, said Megan Boyd, a car specialist with Auctions America. It’s become the place to sell these cars.
Plus, like always, there will be a variety of muscle cars, collectible cars, cars ranging from any price to the nearly priceless, from the sleek and beautiful to the odd and rare. And that’s not even mentioning the special attractions – like a Rolls-Royce used in the show Boardwalk Empire and celebrities galore – that there have always been.
It’s not just a car auction, we have something going on for the entire family, Boyd said. (That entertainment is) what helps build families coming back to the auction.
Among the special items for sale: a 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible offered by Vietnam War veteran Jerry Rathburn, with all proceeds from the sale going to benefit the Honor Flight of Northeast Indiana, a nonprofit organization that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the war memorials.
Rathburn hopes to raise at least $55,500 to send 70 World War II vets to D.C., according to Boyd.
He’s really passionate about that car, Boyd said. Talking to him, you can’t help get excited about it.