A Driving Force

The town of Auburn and the love of cars go hand in hand…but the heart of the community comes from the people.
4/1/2016
Jennifer Blomquist
Jeffrey Crane & Tony Frantz

“It’s hard to come to Auburn and not fall in love with its small town charm and wonderful people,” says Sarah Payne, lifelong Auburn enthusiast and executive director of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival. “This year marks the 60th anniversary for the ACD Festival and we couldn’t be more excited for the world to come to Auburn and celebrate with us. The thing is, our festival is so much more than just cars on Labor Day weekend. Those of us from Auburn think of our community as a hidden jewel. We value where we’re from and are passionate about our community. We open our arms to people who are and aren’t car enthusiasts because again, Auburn is about more than just cars.”

“If you’re an automobile enthusiast, hands down, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is on your bucket list,” says Kendra Klink, chief operating officer of the museum. “We have cars that you can’t see anywhere else but here. Even so, I’m always telling people that it’s about more than just the cars. It’s about the experience and the memories you create here that make you want to keep coming back.”

Payne says the festival committee has put a lot of effort into making the event tremendously family friendly, with many activities boasting free admission and all others being very affordable.

“All of the downtown activities for the festival are free,” says Payne. “We have live music from local bands, fireworks, great food and we don’t charge for parking.”

“The museum, of course, stays open during the festival and we have lots of hands-on activities for kids. It’s a lot of fun for families to make incredible memories. I think all of us who grew up here and went to the festival every year don’t really have memories of the cars as much as we do about the fun we had with our families.”

“The festival, the museum and Auburn itself are all about families and making connections,” says Payne. “People come from all over the world to go to the festival, but a lot of people right here in northeast Indiana don’t realize what they have in their own backyard. We’re just a 15-minute drive from Fort Wayne and easily accessible from all over northeast Indiana, yet there are so many people who have never come here. And the fact that the ACD Festival happens in downtown Auburn is so fitting as we celebrate and promote what made Auburn so special in the past and still creates its charm today. Entrepreneurship, innovation, a love of this community and, of course, the automobiles, have made Auburn a great place to live and visit year-round.”

Having grown up and lived most of their lives in Auburn, Klink and Payne recognize the tremendous sense of pride in their community and the museum.

“This is where all the magic happened,” says Klink. “The story that we’re telling took place in this building. We’re a great example of art deco architecture. We’ve got the cars. We’ve got the history. So, we really do have something for everybody and our main mission is to educate.”

“When you come here, you climb the same staircase the designers of the cars climbed,” says Laura Brinkman, executive director/CEO of the museum. “This is the only automobile museum in the world that’s in the original headquarter building. You come here and see where it really happened.”

Having worked at the museum for 37 years, Brinkman has witnessed firsthand the love affair people have with cars.

“The museum is visited by people from all 50 states and at least 40 different countries all year long,” she says. “It’s open 362 days a year and holds numerous special events throughout the year that are open to the public. It also serves as a highly regarded and unique venue for events such as wedding receptions and business conferences.”

The infamous building, which is a national historic landmark, sits at the center of the community and is also a huge part of the immensely popular festival.

Payne, Klink and Brinkman all agree there are four separate entities that make the Auburn community what it is.

“You have the museum, the festival, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club and the auction which takes place during the festival,” says Brinkman. “These are four completely separate entities that make it all happen here, but honestly, I don’t think one would be anything without the others. It’s a wonderful, successful collaboration.”

The museum and the festival committee will be collaborating this spring with a co-fundraiser to support both organizations. It will take place on Friday, May 6th at the newly-opened, outdoor plaza for the museum.

“We’re calling it ‘Brew Bash’ and it will actually be the inaugural event for the plaza,” says Payne. “The event is open to anyone age 21 or older and it will be an evening of craft beer tasting, great food by some favorite Fort Wayne food trucks and live music. We’re telling people to visit our website for more details at acdfestival.org.”

All three women work tirelessly throughout the year to promote their community, the museum and the festival, but they say they couldn’t do it without volunteers—lots of volunteers.

“We cannot thank them enough for their dedication and help,” says Payne. “Another item of big help to promote all of the wonderful things that Auburn has to offer is the All Things Auburn book. It’s published in August and distributed with Business People magazine throughout northeast Indiana and showcases our community and all the things there are to do here all year long. We hope our love of Auburn will be contagious.”


Save the Dates

Friday, May 6, 2016 

“Brew Bash” at the plaza of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

August 28 – September 5, 2016  

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival


Interested in being a part of 

All Things Auburn Event Guide? 

For more information about advertising in
All Things Auburn, call us at (260) 497-0433.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival

Address: 1600 Wayne Street Auburn, Indiana 46706

Phone: (260) 925-3600

Website: acdfestival.org

Email: information@acdfestival.org

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