LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After Thursday night rain and heat lightning, the sky over Lake George was blue again on Friday – just in time for showing and shining. The Adirondack Nationals Car Show came to town this week, running until Sunday, Sept. 10.
Every year, the festival of classic vehicles welcomes around 1,500 cars for four days of cruising and showing off by the lake. Some of those cars could be seen along a crowded Canada Street, but the main event populated Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, with even more nearby at Charles R. Wood Park.
“If you walk around you’ll see anything from heavy-duty trucks, Volkswagons, Zetas – everything is here,” said co-organizer Ken Williams, standing between the hotel and the lake in a field of classic cars from 1979 or earlier.
What keeps visitors coming back? “The lake.”
The 34th annual show is affordable, with $15 admission at the gate. This year, Joe and Amanda Martin from reality TV show “Iron Resurrection” make a return appearance. On Friday, “My Classic Car” TV host Dennis Gage could be seen riding around the festival grounds by golf carts, talking to fans and appreciating classics in the midday sun.
Every car at Adirondack Nationals comes with its own story – but most of them don’t come in the form of a real book. Under a mix of sun and shade, red paint sparkled on a 1958 Oldsmobile Fiesta. Behind the car, a table was stocked with copies of three children’s picture books starring the very same car – the first of which tells the story of how its owner found it a decade after selling it.
“After I sold the car, I instantly regretted it,” said New Jersey resident James Contreras. “We sold it to a guy who drove it to Louisiana, and that’s all we heard – so I put out an ad saying if anyone has any info, contact me. In 2012, I get a text message saying ‘I think I have your car.'”
After finding out that the Oldsmobile had made it all the way to Germany, Contreras bought it back for $3,500. It needed a lot of work – new flooring, brakes, and a lot more. A week after being restored, the car got rear-ended, meaning more time and money to pour into bringing it back to its former glory.
Four years ago, Contreras decided to write the car’s story into a picture book for his nephew – 2 years old at the time, now age 6. “Wilbur the Wagon’s Big Dream” tells that story, now one of three books about a characterized version of the beloved family car, alongside “Wilbur the Wagon’s Sunrise Surprise” and “Wilbur the Wagon Saves Christmas.” All three books are illustrated by Linda Farrington Wilson, and self-published through Amazon.
This summer, Contreras has driven Wilbur to car shows in Syracuse; Ocean City, Maryland; and Raleigh, North Carolina. This weekend is his first time in Lake George, and neither heat nor rain have been able to dampen high spirits.
“What an amazing show. They’ve really welcomed us. The weather coming here wasn’t perfect, but today’s been great.”