After last year’s Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Executive Director Amber Jackson took a day or two off to rest, then went right back to work. After all, welcoming tens of thousands of people to a town that normally boasts a population of just over 13,000 isn’t an easy feat – so the preparation for this year started right away.
“I look forward to building it. I think anytime you can create something out of nothing, it’s inspiring. It keeps you motivated and it’s a lot of fun, so my favorite part of the year is creating new events and new ideas and then finding people to support that,” Jackson says.
Festival-goers are often drawn in by the tradition and the history of events like the Hoosier Tour and the Parade of Classics but look forward each year to the new elements that add excitement and variety.
One of those ideas was inviting Rob Wolfe from the History Channel’s American Pickers to the festival. On the hit show, Wolfe and his partners explore homes and barns, looking for collectibles and antiques to resell. While Wolfe was recently in Auburn to pick through someone’s private collection, Jackson approached him about coming back for the annual Labor Day weekend event. She didn’t want to simply host a meet and greet, though. She wanted to create an experience – and her friends over at Windows, Doors & More were happy to partner.
“I suggested to Robbie, we could gather some community people so they can see what that hobby looks like,” Jackson says. “That’s how you take the normal idea of, ‘let’s have somebody come to our event’ and build it into an interaction where people go, ‘You know what? That was really interesting.’”
The live picking will take place at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31 at James Plaza in Auburn.
Also new this year is an event called Ticket to Ride. “This is an idea we built with Joyce Hefty at State Farm Insurance where we’re going to invite some people who have really great cars, probably about 15 to 20, to be downtown and give people rides from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday before the music starts. They can get pre-registered tickets at Joyce Hefty’s office starting in August,” Jackson explains. “Often there’s such a disconnect with car owners and the community and there’s this level of, ‘I’ll never own a car like that.’ What we’re really trying to do is keep reinforcing this car culture and get people in these cars and continue to get younger generations to fall in love with them all over again.”
Of course, there are traditional favorite events like the Cruise-In, which starts at 10 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Some 700 cars – ranging from ACD classics to hot rods to imports and everything in between – will be on display on the Courthouse Square. Then there’s the Parade of Classics, which is what started it all 63 years ago.
“This is the year of the Model J Duesenberg, the 90th anniversary, so we should have some amazing – I would say some phenomenal – Model Js coming into town for this,” Jackson says. “When you think of classic cars, Duesenbergs are that top tier.”
The parade starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and ends at the Courthouse Square, where the best of the best will be judged. Exotic and luxury cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens will come after the classics for the Fast & Fabulous display at 5 p.m. Saturday wraps up with a spectacular concert.
“I went down to Nashville and saw probably 20 different bands and hand-picked some that I thought would be really great for Auburn,” says Jackson. “We chose Matte Gray band because the musicality of these guys is phenomenal. They can play a little bit of everything, but expect to hear all your favorite country songs. If you know how to line dance, bring that, too, because they’re playing all the favorites.”
While cars are obviously the main attraction, Jackson points out that even people who aren’t into cars can be part of the fun. On the Wednesday before the festival, the second annual Dancing with the DeKalb Stars event will take place at Country Heritage Winery.
“The difference this year is that every person who chooses to dance will get to pick a nonprofit that they dance for as long as it serves DeKalb County,” Jackson says. “This is just one more opportunity that we’ve taken to create something that not only gives back to the community but gets community members involved. Perhaps they’re not car people but they are community people. You can be a very big part of this festival without ever owning or loving cars.”
Address: 1600 Wayne St. Auburn, Indiana 46706
Phone: (260) 925-3600