The Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce executive director asked me to pass along her welcome to all those who will be visiting Elkins this weekend during the 25th annual Mountain State Street Machines cruise-in and car show.
"It is with great pleasure that I welcome participants of the 25th anniversary Mountain State Street Machines Car Show to Elkins and Randolph County," she said. "Jim Knicely has opened the door to your enjoyment and patronage of our community for many years. On behalf of the board of directors and members of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, I wish to acknowledge and thank him for all he has done to grow the car show and make it the outstanding event that it is today. I also wish to acknowledge the car show participants, many of whom have been returning to Elkins for many years, and thank them for their eagerness to come and share our mountain home. Our community is growing and changing in many positive ways.
"I encourage all of our car show friends to take a stroll in our historic downtown; visit our shops, cafes and restaurants; take a ride on the New Tygart-Flyer; and see the wonderful show at the American Mountain Theater. Above all, enjoy your stay with the many friends you have made here over the years.
"I hope to meet many of you personally as I pass through the rows of cars in our city park. Thank you for coming and thank you for enjoying our community and its people."
After last year's July 4 car show was washed out of Elkins City Park by heavy rain and moved downtown, a survey was mailed to each car owner who participated seeking information regarding where they would prefer the show be - in the park or downtown. More than 80 percent of those who responded said they wanted it continued in the park. (In fact, when many of those who came to last year's show learned that it wasn't going to be in the park, they returned home that evening.) They said that they enjoy the Elkins show so much because of the cool and relaxing ambiance of the park. Many suggested that this is the prime reason that the Elkins show has become the largest of its kind in the state. The merchants, naturally, would like to see it downtown, but the mission of the show is to please our visitors and make the show a memorable occasion for many years to come. Accordingly, the show will continue to be in the park.
Some of the respondents voiced some concern about the ERCCC becoming involved with the show. This is Knicely's 25th consecutive show. Participants have grown so accustomed to his easy-going personality and problem-solving abilities that they would rather nothing change. We are all creatures of habit and are naturally resistant to change. Knicely, however, told me Wednesday evening while preparing for the show that it simply became a matter of needing help to organize and manage the show.
"It became such a large undertaking that the MSSM Car Club did not have the manpower to handle it," he said. "At our first show in 1984 we had 61 or 62 cars. For many years, we had a membership large enough to handle the show as it continued to grow.
"Over the past several years its growth, combined with a constantly declining membership, became more than our members could handle," Knicely said. "We had to look outside the club for help. We approached the Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce board of directors and, we are happy to say, they agreed to step in and give us a hand."
Those chamber members and others who have worked with Jim, his wife, Suzanne, and charter car club members Bill Brock, Josh Small and Jim McWilliams for the past three years as understudies, want car owners to know that they consider themselves very fortunate to have been asked to help. More importantly they want them to know that they are not interested in changing anything - why try to fix something that isn't broken? There will, of course, be changes to come as there have been changes in the past, made necessary by influences over which the planners have no control. This year's registration fee, for example, had to be increased due to the increase in costs of nearly everything associated with the event.
ERCCC President Merllene Yorkey said, "The chamber's board of directors and members are delighted that Mr. Knicely approached us and asked us to help with the show. We are happy to be a part of an event that draws so many people to our town.
"It is our desire to do everything possible to make every car show participants' weekend an enjoyable and memorable one," she said. "We look forward to working with car owners and enthusiasts in the coming years."
Yorkey also said that ERCCC members will be visiting with car owners during the show to become acquainted with them personally and to give them an opportunity to express their concerns for the future as well as ideas that will make the show even better.
"Because of the heavy workload of those working the show, we might not have a chance to visit with everyone, so if you have a suggestion or idea, please stop by the public announcer's stand or anyone working the registration booth and we will be happy to talk with you," Yorkey said.