PerryFest readies for big turnout

A vintage Pontiac GTO is displayed at the 2020 PerryFest Classic Car Show. This year’s show is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday behind Perry City Hall.

PERRY — Even during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last fall, 177 vehicles participated in the annual PerryFest Classic Car Show.

With many people vaccinated now, organizers are hoping this year’s car show — a free city-hosted event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday on the lawn behind Perry City Hall, 203 W. Polly St. — will produce an even bigger turnout.

“I’m hoping for more cars this year, now that the pandemic has kind of subsided,” said Stu Jackson, a Perry resident and car enthusiast who is organizing the car show for the second year.

“People should come just to see all this history and all the cars: There’s so much to see. We’ve had El Caminos, Olds 442s — just about everything.”

One of this year’s more interesting entries: A 9-year-old boy from Williamston is displaying a miniature “Model T” — actually a souped-up go-cart, Jackson said.

Thanks to a host of sponsors, there will be 30 awards this year, including for Best of Show, Sheriff’s Choice, Police Chief’s Choice and Mayor’s Choice, with winners receiving trophies or plaques.

The cost to enter a vehicle is $15. Online pre-registration at carshowsoftware.com ends Thursday, but don’t worry: Jackson said vehicles can be registered on the morning of the show, starting at 9 a.m.

“And we’re open to everyone,” he said. “We call it a classic car show but we get a lot of new ones, too.”

Ever since the PerryFest Classic Car Show started more than a decade ago, Jackson has displayed his own treasure — a 1969 Pontiac GTO, midnight green. A few years ago, when previous organizers stepped down, Jackson offered to take over.

He’s organized car shows for his church many times, he said, learning what works and what doesn’t. Jackson will also be spinning tunes during the show.

“Everyone loves cars, and Stu will play all the tunes of yesteryear as we walk around the festival like we were back in high school,” said city of Perry Events Coordinator Dori Boertman. “Stu and his whole crew are amazing. He’s Mr. Car Show.”

In the past few years, attendance at the formerly larger-scale PerryFest dwindled, Boertman said, but the car show turnout remained strong.

That prompted city officials to consolidate PerryFest into a car show with plenty of food for sale. Brent’s Pizza of Perry and Whenever Wienies will vend their specialties.

In the pavilion, the Williamston Eagles FOE Riders will serve chicken breast and leg dinners, and hardwood smoked brisket sandwiches. Side dishes include potato salad, cole slaw and baked beans.

From tents set up near the city hall flags, members of the Perry Garden Club will offer mums, pumpkins, decorated gourds, doughnuts, popcorn and other treats, along with “some surprises,” Boertman said.

“The weather’s supposed to be fabulous on Saturday and we’re getting into fall, so people will want to get out this weekend,” she said. “They can enjoy the music and the cars and the food.”

For details, visit perry.mi.us and click “activities and events” or call Jackson at (517) 675-6908.

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