A fun Wings & Wheels

Under the hood of a Ford Cobra Jet Mustang during the Wings & Wheels car show Oct. 7. (Empire Press photo/David Heiling)

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By David Heiling
Empire Press Correspondent

Ariella Rodriguez, 3, right, gets her face painted like a kitty by Gabi Bartlett, 15, during Wings & Wheels activities Oct. 7 at Eastmont Community Park. (Empire Press photo/David Heiling)

EAST WENATCHEE — People old and young, big and small, tall and short all came together at Eastmont Community Park Oct. 5-8 for the 15th annual Wings & Wheels Festival presented by Town Toyota.

Crew members were busy setting up the festival grounds, which included a Merry-Go-Round, on Wednesday and the carnival was open to the public Thursday through Sunday.

Following the yearly Friday Cruise that departed the park off Grant Road in East Wenatchee, Saturday’s car show featured new muscle cars, classic hot rods, and even some altered beauties. Hundreds of people from all parts of the country flocked to the more than 210 entries on display throughout the park.

Judges for the car show walked around solo, in pairs, or groups of three scribbling down notes on small notepads for who they thought should win this year’s event in the numerous categories. Every color of car was represented — from black to yellow to green to brown to purple, even flame-sprinkled vehicles could be seen.

It was in many ways a typical Wenatchee Valley car show. Owners eagerly awaited interested passersby to come up and ask questions about their prized possessions and hoods showing some serious horsepower opened to the skies as festival-goers young and old peaked their heads under the metal flaps. Friends greeted friends and family members shared laughs under the blue sky on a typical fall day.

“Those flames you see there were painted on by Mike Lavallee over in Snohomish,” Jim Workman said of his flame-littered car. “If you’ve ever seen the show with Chip Foose, he’s part of that group.”

In contrast, cars and their owners from states far away also came to Wings & Wheels. A 1972 Volkswagen came all the way from Tennessee, a classic 1968 Ford Mustang made the trek from Texas, and a converted wooden bus came from California. No matter the location, though, eager spectators with cameras could be seen at every car, inquiring about the history of the car, van, or bus; what year the four-wheeled vehicle was; or how many miles were on the tires.

“Yeah, she’s seen her fair share of miles,” Robert Graham said of his VW van. “But she’s still in pretty good shape as you can see.”

Observers jived to music such as “Route 66” by Nat King Cole, “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash, and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival as they slowly paced the park’s grounds.

Les Schwab Tire Centers had a display of rims for attendees’ viewing pleasure. Jim Baxter, formerly the owner of Go-Bent Recumbent Bikes & RC Hobbies, manned the RC flyers desk with Mark Ingram. Okanogan’s Dale Markhan came down Highway 97 with his custom-made license plates with a story in tote.

“I used to own about 50 different cars, and now I’m down to just two,” Markhan said with a chuckle. “I started making these once I sold the cars and cut them up to make cool new plates. It got me out of the house after I stopped working. I go to about five festivals a year, it’s just good to get out.”

Just a short walk away outside the main car show, vendors supplying goodies of both the food and drink variety handed out mini tacos, kettle corn, lemonade and hot dogs to the paying customers. Nearby, the children’s games were almost just as popular as the neighboring car show.

Young children smiled with glee as they tried to throw a ping pong ball into a metal tin to win a small prize, clapped with excitement when they successfully threw bean bags into a hole with the “Wings & Wheels” insignia painted on a wooden board. A few steps away, the kids had a dizzying amount of options: get their fingernails painted by a teenage girl, go to the Humane Society booth and pet Zeus the dog, or go get their face painted like a kitty or lion?

Moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas held their little one’s hand as they made their way around the festivities.

Unfortunately for aeronautics aficionados, Wings & Wheels turned into Wheels & Wheels as the conditions out past Pangborn Airport were too windy to fly.

“It’s not going to happen,” Baxter said of the RC flights. “The conditions out there are too blustery. It’s at like 15-18 miles per hour out there right now. It’s supposed to get worse.”

The 15th annual Wings & Wheels festival was a success out at Eastmont Community Park, and it seems like the festival will continue to be a great way to spend a fall weekend for years to come.