Clarke County Democrat

Fall Festival’s Smith Memorial Auto Show marks 40th years

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What began as a dream for the late Bob Smith of Jackson became a tradition that is entering its 40th year. Smith’s son, Kenny, is now the driving force behind the annual Smith Family Memorial Auto Show. This year’s show is dedicated to the memory of Bob, Sarah and Bobby Smith.

Dream was to restore car and create a car show

Bob Smith’s dream was to purchase and restore a 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air and to establish an annual antique auto show in Jackson. He bought the car he had his heart set on in the mid- 1970s. The car needed extensive work both on the exterior and interior. After nearly a year of hard work, the results were amazing.

After the restoration was complete, the Smiths began entering their “new” car in antique auto shows all over the country, winning numerous trophies throughout the years. Smith was a member and four-time president of the Old South Antique Auto Club in Mobile. His involvement in classic automobile competitions led to the second part of Smith’s dream, to bring an antique auto show to Jackson.

“There weren’t many auto shows in the area at that time,” said Kenny. “He asked for and was given the club’s blessing to start one in Jackson.”

After his dad passed away Kenny continued his involvement with the Old South Antique Auto Club and like his dad, has also served as president four times. “When my dad got involved so did I,” he said. “I was around 7 or 8 when all this began, so I’ve been involved as far back as I can remember.”

Part of city festival

The decision was made to make the show part of the new Forestry Festival. The first Bob Smith Antique Auto Show coincided with the first festival and got a great response.

If it was not for the event being a family affair, it would be a lot harder to do, according to Kenny. “It’s basically a family reunion for us,” he said. “Family members come from Indiana and Florida to help out.”

A family affair

Kenny said his brothers Tommy and Bobby, both from Jackson, contributed a great deal through the years.

Sadly, Bobby passed away earlier this year but Tommy, who recently retired from the U.S. Postal Service, continues to help. Another brother, Steve, who isn’t able to attend the annual show, came from his home in Montana to help get the car’s engine in shape for this year’s event. Kenny’s sister Belinda Holly of Saraland also comes to lend a hand.

Although it’s a lot of work, Kenny said he enjoys every minute of it. He sends out hundreds of mailouts to potential participants each year.

The Smiths award trophies in several categories.

A number of trophies

Trophies will be awarded this year using a 100 point judging system for first, second and third place Best of Show for Pre-War and Post-War only. In addition, trophies for longest distance driven, club with most cars registered, Chairman’s Choice, Kid’s Choice, Ladies Choice, Oldest Participating Vehicle and first, second and third place trophies for the under 21 class and work in progress.

Kenny said he is grateful to the people who help every year with the show. One in particular is Jimmy Neese of Mobile, who has served as head judge since the very begining.

The 40th Annual Smith Family Memorial Auto Show is Nov. 5 in front of Jackson Middle School.

Registration will be from 8 a.m. – noon.

Judging begins at noon and trophies will be awarded at 2:30 p.m.

Bob Smith, left, with his pride and joy: The 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air he restored. At right, Bob’s spouse and children. From front left: Steve, wife Sarah, Belinda Holley, (back) Tommy, Bobby and Kenny.

Bob Smith, left, with his pride and joy: The 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air he restored. At right, Bob’s spouse and children. From front left: Steve, wife Sarah, Belinda Holley, (back) Tommy, Bobby and Kenny.



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