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The End of a Classic

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Hobbies Topics:  Classic Plastic
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

The End of a Classic

Bill Crittenden
January 28, 2013


Looking back, I can hardly believe it's 2013 already.  I was thinking back on the past near decade because I've apparently been to quite a few model car shows over the years.  Now, it's been almost all in northern Illinois, with a few in Wisconsin.  Out of all that I have seen, including personal conflicts, near fights, namecalling, bad weather, weather too good to spend a day indoors, this past Sunday was the most apocalyptically idiotic excuse for a model car show I have ever witnessed.

This was a show that, in one past year, had a handwritten sign on the door that read, "free admition."  So I know that this is usually a low point on the model car tour in this area.  How low it could go, I had no idea at that time.  Hell, I don't know how many years it's been since they actually used a name for it, with nothing better to call it I just kept applying the old name to the event.

So, as best as I can piece together from the few folks who were there, the event usually known as the Classic Plastic, now the unnamed event held at the Ken Rock Community Center in Rockford, Illinois, was not supposed to happen this year.  It was thrown together within the last month before the show, and the only people who were told about it were the vendors (although I did find a deleted listing on Craigslist from a Google search).  No model show, less than half the usual vendors, and I'd say about a dozen people who were not vendors walked in over the course of the day.

Now, I know that size isn't everything.  I've actually been to smaller events with fewer vendor tables, particularly an all-plastic swap meet in South Milwaukee, but that one was great!  Not enough room for a show, but there was a constant flow of people, and the vendors had top-notch stuff, and everybody was enjoying themselves.  The NNL in Waukesha is probably the most-fun-per-square-feet of any show I've ever been to.

This event was just plain miserable, the highlights being when one customer got pissed off at someone and threw a die cast car (still in the box) on the ground, and of course when we finally left the place.  I spent much of the rest of the time playing on my phone, taking a nap, and waiting to leave.

What could possibly possess someone to hold a show and admit to at least one vendor that he hadn't bothered to advertise it?  My first thought was it was just to cash in on his vendors, but from what I heard later he had lost money on the cost of renting the gym.  Maybe he wanted to hold the date until next year, or keep it going so there wasn't an off year, but what vendors are going to come back to that waste of a day, waste of a trip, waste of gasoline and for many, a waste of table money?  This event was really the dumbest, most pointless, most aggravating thing I have ever seen done in my years going around the model car shows in this area.  I can't imagine vendors ever coming back to that show after the mistreatment of this year, and there weren't any spectators left to consider whether or not they'll ever come back.  I don't know their names since I didn't actually have to deal with them, but there were two people running the show this year, and they seemed to be the only ones enjoying themselves.  How callous or oblivious do you have to be to enjoy yourselves for having ruined a lot of people's Sundays for nothing, used their trust to get them to spend money not only on the vendor tables but also on the gas to get there, and offer them absolutely nothing in return?

I do have to point out that this is not in any way reflective of the Ken Rock Community Center, which runs a great place for the kids in the Rockford area.  The person that was there for the day from Ken Rock was friendly, found us a cart, opened up a concession stand and had hot dogs, soup, and coffee for the few of us there.  Even better was that the hot dogs were a buck each, the same thing I've seen sold at other shows for $3 and usually forces us to go find a McDonald's in the middle of an unfamiliar town.  Overall, a great place to hold a model car show!

All is not lost, however, as I heard talk among at least a couple of vendors, one of which runs another show in the area, of approaching the community center and putting on the show themselves.  According to the vendors and past attendees I've talked to, it really was a great show in the past, one that I unfortunately only started coming to in its recent steep decline.  Depending on who runs it next year, it is either going to be back on the path towards its former status or it's going to somehow, in some way (although I can't imagine it yet) be worse than this year.  That will all depend on the name attached to the show next year.  If it's "Rockford Wheels in Scale," I'd recommend not wasting the effort, not even if you lived across the street.  If it's run by the other group, I'll let folks know through this site and I'll hopefully be back next year.



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