Summer fest a success at Claytor Lake State Park

By WILLIAM PAINE
william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Fireworks at Claytor Lake State Park’s summer festival Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the park’s opening. For the past 21 years the Claytor Lake Festival Committee has produced a summer festival at the park featuring a car show and fishing contest, along with lots of food and entertainment.

This year was no different, with vendors selling everything from hot dogs to handmade crafts. Musical acts included Wohlfarhrt Haus band, the Uptown Trio and Southern Nights. Beginning at noon, the park was packed with people who meandered between classic cars, the bandstand and the beach.

One hundred and five vehicles entered the car show, which was judged not by judges but by the owners of the cars in the show. There were 14 categories in this year’s car show, including one for best motorcycle.

Steve Greer of Newbern won for Best 60s car with a 1961 “Bubble Top” Chevy Impala. “I bought it from a man in Dublin about 10 years ago for $3500,” said Greer. “I sandblasted it. I had to have the floor replaced and replaced a fender. I’ve redone it myself. I had a friend of mine rebuild the engine and transmission, but I did the body work and then the body shop painted it. I made the consoles and I made the upper part of the grill and put L.E.D. lights in it. I worked in quality for pretty much 40 years at Volvo and I think that helped me. It probably took seven or eight years total between injuries and taking time off to work on it. It’s the first one I’ve ever done.”

Barry Wilson of Dublin took home the prize for Best in Show as well as the top honors for Best Paint and Best Engine for his 1954 Chevrolet two door hard top. Wilson bought the ’54 Chevrolet Bel Air prize winner back in 2007 for $2,500. Since then, he changed the moldings on the car’s rear quarter panels, installed “Frenched” headlamps, added five extra “teeth” to the front grill, installed Cadillac tail lamps, put a ’86 Malibu rear end under the back side, installed a “Fat Boy” front end and dropped in a new engine and transmission. He also added air conditioning with a modern radio tucked under it, out of sight.

As is the case with many of the cars at the show, Wilson used parts from various other models to put together his ride. In addition to Cadillac tail lamps and a Malibu rear end, he installed brakes from a Chevelle, MOPAR ball joints and a rack and pinion power steering set up from a Mustang. This could raise some eyebrows.

“I don’t tell many people that,” Wilson said smiling. “It took me seven years to build the car. I’ve been in the body shop business since 1970. I own Wilson Body Shop in Dublin, so I just did this in my spare time. I’ve built several cars over the years. I took it off the frame and put it on a rotisserie, something you can rotate 360 degrees so you can paint the bottom of it and everything. It’s a lot of work but I love doing that stuff.”

As the winner of Best in Show, Wilson received a $500 gift certificate from King Tire in Pulaski. According to Judy Isom, Claytor Lake Festival Chairperson, this year’s car show had more entrants than any time in the past.

That same afternoon, about 100 dedicated anglers were vying for top honors in the fishing contest at the Claytor Lake harbor. The fishing competition was divided into youth, teen and adult categories with trophies for given for first, second and third places for the biggest largemouth and smallmouth bass. There was also a panfish category, which includes most smaller species found in the lake. Winners of the contest (listed below) were given gift certificates to various restaurants in the area, along with a trophy.

“It just all comes together,” said Becky Yearout, who is on the Committee for the Claytor Lake Festival. “We’re proud of the festival and we’re proud of the fishing tournament. The fact that so many people keep coming back makes it really special. People in the area really like it and it’s grown.”

Winners of the fishing contest were as follows: Youth division age 0-6. First place – Nyla Pettrey, second place – Braiden Hill, third place – Eli Parker, fourth place – Jase Myers, fifth place – Ryland Riddle, Big Fish – Sage Aultman.

In the Youth Division (age 7-12) the winners were first place – Bryce Dowdy, second place – Coby Stover, third place – Gage Arnold, fourth place – Hunter Stover, fifth place – Cassidy Price and Big Fish – Ryan Horn. Pan fish was the only category in the youth division.

Winners of the Teen Division were (per category) Largemouth: first place – Dustin Martin, second place – Hunter Wimmer. Smallmouth: first place – Hunter Wimmer. Panfish: first place – Dustin Martin, second place – Wesley Sadler, third place – Hunter Wimmer and Big Fish – Dustin Martin.

Adult Winners were (per category): Largemouth, first place – James Cecil Jr., second place – Cody Linkous Sr. Smallmouth, first place – Rick Riddle, second place – Russel Woodrum. Panfish, first place – Cody Linkous Sr., second place – Tya Linkous, third place – Ronnie Breeden and Big Fish – Rick Riddle.

There were two additional awards given. Hollace Oakes won the prize for the Essay Contest and Cody Linkous Jr. won the Aiden Bugg Sportsmanship award.

The event ended with an impressive firework display which, as usual, drew onlookers from around Claytor Lake and beyond.

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