Changing the venue of the annual Stragglers Car Club charity show to the Lake Karapiro domain has lifted the event to the next level. Held on Sunday, November 23, the venue was already packed at the opening time of 10am with fins, chrome, and just about every brand of car imaginable.
Thankfully, there were still a few acres to the south of the domain for us latecomers and we were soon parked amongst a sea of hot rods, Australian and American iron. A quick stroll soon confirmed our first impressions that this event is getting bigger and better every year, and the quality of the cars being built and driven in New Zealand is amazing.
It was apparent that the retro-caravan scene is growing too with a dozen or so nice examples being displayed by owners who are more than happy to share the love of their vans with anyone who is interested. It is interesting how many folk who show their cars would prefer to keep them at arm’s length from the public and hover around them to keep them safe, whereas all the caravan owners we spoke with just invited us in. Proud to show us around and more than happy for anyone to come inside and have a look. Perhaps it is this friendliness, inclusiveness, and welcoming attitude amongst the owners that is responsible for the boom in their hobby?
On the lower domain the music was pumping, the food and drink stalls were doing a roaring trade, and everyone looked to be having a great time. Around noon the clouds cleared and the sun made its presence felt with most showgoers taking shelter anywhere they could find a patch of shade, under the trees or one of the marquees, for a few snacks and refreshments. Also down on the lower level was the rocker-cover racing, which was a highlight for a lot of the children there. This was one of the more impressive ramp set-ups we have seen, complete with working Christmas tree and with some of the unusual creations being raced it provided plenty of entertainment for the younger generation.
There were fears last year that moving to Karapiro would destroy the intimate feel of the Stragglers show, but everyone we spoke to disagreed. Yes it is different, but the consensus was that it is a far better venue, with plenty of parking without the need to cram everyone in. There's room to throw out a blanket, set up a gazebo and really enjoy the day, and after last year’s inaugural event at Lake Karapiro, even more people came along this year to experience the venue and the day. Due to the layout with the cars spread over several different levels it is hard to guess the number of people that turned up but there were estimates of 1200–1500 cars through the gate. Whatever the number, we had a great day out and hope the Stragglers raised plenty of money for their chosen charities.