Maybe it was the weather, or the phase of the moon, but attendance Saturday at Apalachicola’s Antique and Classic Car and Boat show probably set a record.
With more than 100 entries and parking at a premium downtown, beautiful boats and cars were all around. Some came from as far away as Atlanta, Naples, Jacksonville and Pensacola but many were the treasured possessions for locals from Franklin, Gulf and Wakulla counties.
Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce Director John Solomon said he thought the weather played a big role in the show’s success. “We finally caught a break,” he said. “I was beginning to think the day was cursed. We’ve had windy, cold and rainy weather to deal with but this year, everything came together and the weather was perfect.”
Solomon said he had just finished assigning the last available spaces when six more cars appeared on the scene and he had to extend the display further up Avenue E than planned.
“What’s neat is this is a range of cars and technology," entrant John Grossy of Crestview said,
While there was no formal way to judge attendance, the Apalach Hot Dog Company had sold out of sausages (120) by 1:30 p.m.
Even among the winners chosen by judges, there were some shining stars.
The sailboat Carib II was built by the legendary Commodore Ralph Munroe, an early settler of Biscayne Bay. The wooden boat is 60-feet long with a four-foot draft. Built in 1924, there was no question she was both the largest and the oldest vessel in the competition.
Best of Show for boats was Apalachicola’s own Gibby Conrad’s renovated oyster boat, “Half Shell.” The 27-foot craft was one of the final efforts of legendary Apalachicola craftsman Corky Richards who was named a Florida Master Craftsman in 1986 for his expertise with oyster tongs. The boat was later purchased and converted into a pleasure craft by the late Charlie Williamson. Conrad and boat builder Greg LaSchaum are in the process of renovating the “Half Shell.”
Best of Show for cars was a 1949 Buick Roadmaster belonging to Harland Drawdy of Monticello. Drawdy had long wished for a Roadmaster when he found his dream car at a dealership in south Florida. Upon investigating, he learned the classic had only one previous owner, a 93-year old woman whose son traded it in at a dealership for a new Honda.
Drawdy's offer on the car was accepted but when he drove down to collect his prize, the dealer began to hedge and told him others were interested in the Roadmaster, including Disney. Drawdy replied that if the dealer could sell the car to Disney, he could not compete. The dealer backed down and brought the car home, where he renovated it over the next several years.
The beauty made her first appearance at the Monticello Car Show where she won Best of Show. Later the same day, the Drawdys drove her down to Tallahassee for a show at a local church where she again took Best of Show. Saturday was her third appearance at a show and her third Best of Show.
Another remarkable car that drew a lot of attention was a 1955 Chevy belonging to Kenneth Sanders, of Panama City. The car, rescued from a barn in Huntsville, Alabama, has the original 283 engine with just 73,000 miles on the odometer.
The Sponsors Choice was a gold 1985 Alfa Romeo belonging to Carl Carlson of Apalachicola.
Solomon thanked everyone for their participation in the show and said he has begun planning for next year’s competition. Currently, he is trying to decide where he can further expand the display area.