For local car collectors, fans, Eagle River show jump-starts the spring

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 12:36
  • A 1961 Chevrolet Impala owned by Dennis Anderson on display at the 2016 Alaska Custom Car & Cycle Show. This year’s event is scheduled to take place April 28-30 at Eagle River’s Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center. (Photo courtesy Dennis Anderson)
  • A 1925 Triumph motorcycle owned by Dennis Anderson on display at the 2016 Alaska Custom Car & Cycle Show. This year’s event is scheduled to take place April 28-30 at Eagle River’s Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center. (Photo courtesy Dennis Anderson)

For some Chugiak-Eagle River residents, spring doesn’t really start until the car show comes to town.

“It’s a lot of fun to start the year off there,” said Dennis Anderson, an Eagle River car collector and longtime show attendee.

Scheduled to take place April 28-30 at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center, the Alaska Custom Car and Cycle Show features everything from imports to hot rods to choppers, including the Alaska Hot Rod Hall of Fame, an outdoor show-n-shine and activities for kids. It’s drawn big crowds to the local recreation center since 1990, according to event organizers.

Anderson’s been going for decades. Last year, his 1961 Chevrolet Impala won Best in Show. It took five years to restore the Chevy, which Anderson fixed up with the help of a Peters Creek shop called Chuck’s Custom Restoration. At the annual car show, the Impala’s in good company.

“I think we do real well,” Anderson said. “For our population, I’d say we’ve got as nice of cars as anywhere in the country.”

The annual show brings the local automotive community together in a big way, said Derek Snelson, the Washington-based event producer who’s put the show together for the past 20 years. Auto afficionados come to Eagle River from all around the state.

At the Mac Center, Snelson said, “The cars are the stars.”

“I choose Eagle River because Eagle River is a real Alaska town,” he said. “It’s a great community.”

Snelson, who produces events with Performance Promotions and manages a raceway in Yakima, has deep family ties to Alaska. His show is a continuation of the event started by the Midnight Sun Street Rod Association in the late 1970s. In years past, the event’s drawn more than 3,000 fans and exhibitors.

“He runs a real nice show, and the facilities at the Mac Center are superb, too,” said Anderson, who’s attended more car shows than he can count.

For exhibitors, space in the Eagle River show is by invitation only. The event organizer said he looks for quality and variety.

“We want the antiques, we want the classics, we want the muscle cars — we want it all,” Snelson said.

On the official show flier, the event promises, “something for everyone.” Kids will have the chance to sit inside several real racecars, Snelson said. There will also be an appearance by Superman. For kids age 12 and under, admission to the show is free. Regular admission is $10, and discounted tickets are available at NAPA Auto Parts, according to an event flier.

Show hours are from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 28; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, April 29; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 30.

Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at [email protected]

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