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Southeastern Autorama drives into town despite rain

Downpours did not dampen the spirit of the 59th Annual Southeasten Autorama held on Saturday, June 8, in downtown Erwin. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

The rain did not keep the diehard automobile enthusiasts away from downtown Erwin on Saturday, June 8.

The 59th Annual Southeastern Autorama saw more than 100 unique automobiles spread across Main Avenue from an early model hearse on the corner of Tucker Street to a late model Chevrolet Corvette in the curve of Love Street.

Southeastern Autorama is a car club based in Unicoi County and is the oldest continually running car show in Tennessee since 1960. According to Southeastern Autorama member Keldon Clapp, Conrad Beam and Jim Hobbs created the club in 1960. The Southeastern Autorama Tennessee motto is simple.

“We are brothers and sisters driving, tinkering and talking about cars and trucks while preserving automotive history and helping our community,” Clapp said.

The 59th Annual Southeastern Autorama featured automobiles from a pair of Volkswagen Things to a Ford Model T. According to Southeastern Autorama member Joey Bailey, roughly 90 cars registered and more showed up during the event. Bailey and company handed out several awards to the top automobiles at the show.

“The Raymond Bailey Memorial Best Antique Award went to Doug Carrico of Kingsport for his 1965 Mercury Comet,” Bailey said. “The Best of Show Award, sponsored by Roy Lacey of Doolittle Auto Mart, went to Gerald Hensley of Erwin for his 1968 Chevy Camaro.”

The Autorama also featured a custom made motorcycle that belonged to a couple that made the trip down from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

According to Clapp, anything with an engine is always welcome to the annual car show. Besides having some of the most unique automobiles around, the Autorama featured several vendors that had everything from food to one-of-a-kind handmade crafts.

Even during the downpours on Saturday, the live music continued to fill the downtown from the courthouse steps. Those in attendance sought shelter during the patches of rain but continued to enjoy all of the sights, sounds and tastes of the annual event.

“We want to thank everyone for coming out, and a big thank you to our vendors,” Clapp said. “I’m already getting ready for next year; it’s going to be the 60th Annual Southeastern Autorama, so we need to make it special.”

Bailey also was thankful for the participants.

“We need to thank the car owners for braving the weather – without them we wouldn’t have a show,” Bailey said. “I would like to especially thank Mayor Doris Hensley, as well as Jamie Rice for their help, and the guys from the Town of Erwin who helped block the streets and clean up.”

For more information, updates or to learn how to join Southeastern Autorama Tennessee, follow Southeastern Autorama Tennessee on Facebook. The 60th Annual Southeastern Autorama will be held in downtown Erwin on June 6, 2020.