Car shows usually attract finely tuned, meticulously maintained vehicles, but a local fundraiser is breaking that mold.
“Nothing would please me more than to see a car held together with duct tape,” Heather Peterson said.
The Kiwanis Club of Schenectady is holding its second Ugly Car Contest on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the parking lot at the corner of Liberty Street and Nott Terrace in Schenectady. The event is presented by Collision Experts and the Schenectady Kiwanis is hosting it in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The event welcomes more than ugly cars, with a series of contest categories for all types of car enthusiasts. There are categories for motorcycles.
“It is a bit silly and it’s fun and it’s different,” said Peterson, who is chairwoman of the event. “What we found last year was it was a relaxed car show. People just had fun with it and it wasn’t high pressure.”
The club’s president, Douglas McPhee, came up with the idea after his former California club had done an ugly dog competition. The fundraiser is noticeably different from the club’s usual events.
“(McPhee) said, ‘Why don’t we hang up our golf clubs … and lets have an ugly car competition,” Peterson said. “We thought it was a riot and we did it.”
The event is free for spectators and will feature craft and food vendors, raffles, a live DJ spinning tunes and a Frank Sinatra Tribute show performed by local singer and Kiwanian Joe Kriss.
The Schenectady Fire Department will bring its smokehouse fire safety education vehicle. The interactive exhibit will have kids running through a fire simulation to learn proper safety procedures.
Cafe Nola is offering food at this year’s event, providing some Cajun eats alongside other vendors, who will have fried dough, pizza, ice cream and other fair-type staples.
In addition to the judged categories, every car in the contest is entered into the People’s Choice category for free. Attendees pay a dollar to select their favorite car, whether they think it is the ugliest or best looking car. The vehicle with the most votes will receive a trophy.
The 14 judged categories include Best Muscle Car, Best Hot Rod, Best Import, Best Mustang, Best Custom Renovation, Best Stock/Stock Renovation, Best Sounding Pipes, Best Paint, Worst Paint, Best Pin Striping, Best Stock Motorcycle, Best Custom Motorcycle and the coveted Ugliest Car award. Trophies will be awarded for first through third place in each category.
Peterson is hoping this year the ugliest car will be truly worthy of the title.
“Last year it wasn’t ugly at all,” Peterson said. “It was a VW Thing in beautiful condition.”
Day of registration fees are $12 for the first category per car and $10 for each additional category, but there is a $2 discount for early registration. The first 100 cars will each receive a commemorative dash plaque.
Proceeds from the event will support the Schenectady Kiwanis Club’s Youth Services grant program, which provides funds for children’s organizations throughout Schenectady County, and M.A.D.D will also receive a portion of proceeds.
The Schenectady Kiwanis over the last several years has presented Youth Service grants to dozens of organizations serving children, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady, Junior Achievement, YWCA Northeastern NY, 4-H and Northeast Parent & Child Society. Last year, the club gave more than $4,000 to organizations.
“All of that money went back into Schenectady … it stayed right here,” Peterson said. “It’s all about supporting youth and people in the community.”
Last year’s event saw only 25 cars turning out, but this year Peterson is hopeful the event will really take off. Everyone attending last year said they would return, hopefully along with some of their friends.
“From what we understood that was actually a good turnout for a first time,” she said. “This year we plan on blowing the doors off it.”
The club is looking to raise $6,000, which is $2,000 more than last year.
For information on the event, including registration forms, vendor applications and an event schedule, visit www.uglycarcontest.org.