The 25th annual Verona Car Show was a long time coming. COVID made it impossible to hold the show in 2020, but thanks to a community effort, the show returned last week (September 19) much to the delight of over 900 visitors.
John and Julie Nizman, of Last Chance Auto Restore, which is located in the Moscow area in Stone Mills Township, began running the show in 2016 with the show's founder, Ed Asselstine, who wanted to see the show continue on.
The car show started as a stand alone event, but joined forces with the Verona Festival when it started up at McMullen Park. The Verona Festival became the Cattail Festival and moved to the Lions Park. It folded after 2015.
The show ran as a stand alone event between 2016 and 2019, gathering momentum each year.
“We were very keen to bring the show back this summer after not being able to last year, but there were some obstacles of course,” said John Nizman. “COVID was a big one, of course, but so was finding enough volunteers to make it possible.”
They did some preliminary planning over the spring and summer, letting many of their contacts in the car show community know they were working on a show, but the final decision by the Nizman's, and their new community partner, the Verona Lions Club, only happened in late August.
The Nizmans let the classic car owners in the region and beyond know that the show was on and also arranged for sponsors, from Verona and the Kingston area, to help the event generate funds for local charities.
The Lions Club effort was spearheaded by long-time Lions Executive members Doreen and Dale Morey.
“We needed to find volunteers,” said Doreen Morey, “and I decided to contact some community groups to see if they were interested.”
She approached the local scouts, as well as the Verona Ball Club, who use the Lions ballfield, and also the South Frontenac Museum. They all came through and provided volunteers. Along with Lions Club members who stepped up to run the canteen and provide site support, there were enough people available to put on the show.
Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Public Health (KFLAPH) were approached and they took a close look at all of the plans, and site, to ensure COVID restrictions were being adhered to, and they gave the show the green light. They came back, however, in the days preceding the car show, to do a kitchen inspection and to take a water test. Because of COVID, the regularly scheduled inspections at the Lions Hall, which has a commercial kitchen, have not been taking place.
With the all clear from KFLAPH being secured just days before the show, the 25th annual car show was a go.
The weather co-operated, the classic cars arrived to set up, and the show went off without a hitch.
“One of the great things about it was that people came together,” said Morey. “John McDougall, who is with the museum, said that beyond raising money for the groups who provided volunteers, getting together to do something as a community, after 18 months of isolation, was heartening.”
In addition to the cars and the canteen, there was a 50/50 draw, raffles, door prizes, and of course show prizes for the participating classic car owners. The Trevor Walsh group provided live music, the Lions Canteen was open all day, and the Scouts provided drinks.
Not only was it a good time for the crowd, which was down from the peak years because of COVID, and the short promotion window for the show, but the money raised was substantial for the Verona Lions to disburse.
“John (Nizman) told us that they had raised as much as $13,000 in previous years, so we knew it could be a good fundraiser. But then we ended up with $15,600 in proceeds,” said Doreen Morey, “which is a lot of money for us to raise, especially in these times.”
The Lions are meeting this week to decide how to divvy up the money, but Morey said the museum, the Scouts and the ball association will get the lion's share, and money will also go to the Verona Free Methodist Church Food hamper program, which helps out local families in need.
“It is a lot of work, a ton of work, putting the car show on, but it is a lot of fun as well,” said Julie Nizman.
With the $15,600 that was raised this year, the show has now raised over $61,000 over five years. Between 2016 and 2019, $46,024 was donated to the Verona Community Association, who were the community partners for 4 years.