The Volunteer State Auto Show has drawn auto enthusiasts near and far to the tri-cities area since the early 1960s, and the 30th edition of the event Saturday at Hardin Park was no different.
Despite cloudy skies and scattered rain showers for the second year in a row, club members and visitors were happy for the opportunity to get out, socialize and see some classic autos and customized hot rods in the midst of a challenging time.
“People might not want to bring their nice cars out in the rain, “ said Paul Evans, vice-president of the club and owner of a black 1940 Ford Coupe, which he brought on Saturday. “With the rain, it has been a good turnout.”
Lynn Castle came from Boone, North Carolina, in his 1962 Corvette with a fuel injected motor, which won a door prize at the show, for about the 40th year in a row, he estimated.
“I started going when they had it in a warehouse in Johnson City,” Castle said. Castle also recalled the show previously taking place downtown on Depot Street before the show took its current form it has maintained for 30 years.
“It’s been a fun trip,” Castle said.
Castle said bought the car a little over 44 years ago after searching for some time.
“When I bought this thing I could buy the parts I needed for it at the hardware and auto parts store,” Castle said.
In addition to the original parts, the fuel-injected motor in the car is part of what makes it so special, adding about $50,000 to the value, Castle explained.
Rather than keep it covered and locked away in a garage in a bid to ensure the value is preserved, Castle said he prefers to drive and enjoy his car.
“The good Lord was good enough to let me have it,” Castle said. “I don’t worship it, but it’s a fun little car.”
Jenny Briggs also came from North Carolina with her husband in a 1957 Ford Country Squire station wagon. Briggs enjoyed visiting with friends Judy Williams and Tammy Lane, and the women said attending car shows together with their husbands is something they often look forward to.
“It’s good to be outside,” Lane commented.
Evans said that because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the club decided to make some changes to the event.
Rather than charging a registration fee ahead of the event, the club decided to waive the pre-event registration and accept donations at the event instead.
Evans said money for the prizes awarded at the event, ranging from $20 for door prizes to the $500 grand prize, all selected by club members’ picks, was donated to the club by sponsors.
“It’s been a tough year for everybody, and we’re just trying to get people together to enjoy the vehicles,” Evans said.
“We felt this year, with the current situation, we’d rather people just come out, socialize and have a good time,” said club member Artie Wehenkel on Saturday. “It has worked out well so far.”
Wehenkel said the club debated whether or not to go through with the event given the rise in coronavirus infections, but ultimately decided that the lighthearted, outdoor fun was needed.
Fellow club member Charles Hawkins said he was enjoying all aspects of Saturday’s event.
“I like it all,” Hawkins said. “I like meeting people and looking at the cars. Every year there’s some you haven’t seen.”
Hawkins arrived Saturday with a vehicle he said he built himself.
Club president Bill Collins agreed his favorite part of the annual event is meeting the people who flock to the show as well as looking at the vehicles they arrive in. Collins brought a 1967 Pontiac GTO to the park on Saturday.
In addition to a wide variety of cars, David Cox and his daughter Megan Cox brought their dog Olive to the show in a 1970 Volkswagen bus David Cox said he received as a gift from a friend about 13 years ago. Antiques for sale, including a cooler from the 1950s, were displayed on the grass around the open side of the van.
Megan Cox said she always enjoys the car shows and antiques she grew up around and was excited to ride in the bus on Saturday.
Club members said they are thankful for the support of sponsors, which provided money for door prizes with participation in the event purely by donation.
A club member of 10 years, classic auto enthusiast and Mosheim Mayor Tommy Gregg added thanks to Greeneville Parks and Recreation for the use of Hardin Park for the event. Gregg brought a burgundy and white 1955 Oldsmobile to the show.
“We’d like to thank all the car owners and the public for coming,” said club president Bill Collins.
For more information about the Volunteer State Auto Club, visit www.volunteerstateautoclub.org or https://www.facebook.com/VolStateAuto/.
COVID-19 cases in Greene County increased over the weekend, but it wasn’t clear by how many Monday morning as the state did not update the numbers on Sunday.
Meanwhile the state on Saturday revised downward the number of deaths in Greene County attributed to the virus. According to the daily report issued Saturday by the Tennessee Department of Health, Greene County has two deaths related to the virus. On Friday, the state agency had reported three deaths, an increase of one.
It was not clear Saturday what contributed to the discrepancy.
According to the state Health Department’s report issued Saturday, Greene County had 74 cases of the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began. Of those, 18 case were listed as active.
Those numbers were up from a total of 68 cases, with 12 active, reported Friday by the state agency.
The state Health Department did not release updated numbers Sunday due to what the agency called on its website “an unplanned shutdown of the state surveillance system.”
These technical issues may cause a delay in local public health officials contacting people recently diagnosed with COVID-19, the agency said.
Anyone recently diagnosed with COVID-19 who has questions about their next steps should consult information online or contact their local health department.
The Greene County Health Department can be reached by phone at 798-1749.
Statewide, Saturday’s report included 728 new cases of the virus — down from 1,410 new cases reported Friday — with the total number of cases reported in Tennessee since the pandemic began standing at 40,172.
The number of people who have recovered from the virus is 26,159 statewide, according to the report.
Hamblen County has 58 active cases according to the report, Washington has 23, Carter and Cocke both have 18, Hawkins has eight and Sullivan has 11.
Knox County had 320 active cases reported Saturday, which is an increase of 45 from Friday’s report, while Hamilton County has 875, Davidson County has 2,795 and Shelby County has 2,847.
Nationwide, more than 125,000 people have died from the coronavirus as new infections spike.
With the increase in cases, the best practice is for everyone to wear masks when they are indoors at public places, said Dr. Theo Hensley, a physician with Greeneville Internal Medicine and Family Practice.
Updated recommendations for limiting the spread of the virus for both individuals and businesses can be found on the covidfreegreene.com website, Hensley noted. The site is the work of a group of local medical and business professionals with a goal to share best practices with the community.
Most people who contract COVID-19 will become only mildly or moderately ill, according to health experts. However, for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it can cause serious illness and can be fatal.
Tests are being administered at the Greene County Health Department from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday. No appointment is necessary, but it is recommended that people call 423-979-4689 and register to speed up the testing process on site.
Ballad Health asks anyone concerned they may have the virus to call the system’s Nurse Connect line at 833-822-5523 to be scheduled for testing at the nearest testing site. The line is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Testing is taking place at Greeneville Community Hospital East.
Those who need to speak to someone about mental and emotional challenges the coronavirus may be causing can call Frontier Health’s 24-hour crisis line at 877-928-9062, Tennessee’s 24-hour crisis line at 855-274-7471, or the federal mental health services help line at 1-800-985-5990.