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by Stephen Benjamin
What, you may ask, is a Concours d’Elegance? Translated from French, it’s “a competition of elegance.” And that’s exactly what will take place at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens during the weekend of Sept. 19, says David Schultz, the event’s executive director.
Schultz, who previously headed-up the former Glenmoor Gathering, says vintage automobiles and motorcycles from throughout the United States will vie for top honors at this special event.
For 57 years, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens has hosted its Fathers’ Day car show. Linda Conrad, Stan Hywet’s president and executive director, says after careful study, the decision was made to host the Concours this fall.
“The car show has been a favorite tradition for three generations of Northern Ohioans, and it will continue with the same format that attracts nearly 400 vintage and collector automobiles and thousands of car enthusiasts,” Conrad says. “By contrast, the Concours will feature more than 160 rare, invitation-only automobiles plus motorcycles from throughout the United States, bringing a distinctive character and quality to our annual events lineup.”
Stan Hywet enjoys a reputation as a hospitality leader, offering the finest guest experience and service among museums nationwide. “We are thrilled to bring this revered automotive event to Akron, which played such a central role in the automotive industry and which has long been known as the Rubber Capital of the World,” she says.
Schultz says the spectacular setting, the estate’s history and the staff’s ability to produce special events make Stan Hywet a superb choice.
“What will make this weekend more special is that this event will reflect the original grandeur of the Concours of the 1920s and ‘30s, with emphasis not only on grand motorcars but on fashion, music, food and art,” Schultz says.
Although Sunday is the big day, there will be events throughout the weekend. Starting on Friday, there will be an optional trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, followed by a Welcome Party that evening on the Manor House’s West Terrace.
A countryside tour, featuring automobiles that will be on display in the Concours, will take place Saturday morning, followed by a high tea and vintage fashion show in the Manor House.
Later that afternoon, Wayne Carini, of Velocity Channel's “Chasing Classic Cars” television show, will team up with nationally-known car collector Ralph Marano for a seminar on collector cars at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn. That evening, a dinner at Portage Country Club will include remarks by Ford Motor Company’s design chief Moray Callum.
“Sunday will be dominated by the automobiles and motorcycles,” Schultz says. “But they will have plenty of competition, including a fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue, a seminar on antique furniture by Leigh and Leslie Keno of PBS’ ‘Antiques Roadshow’ and a display of pre-1930 bicycles by The Wheelmen. Coloring books featuring illustrations of the vintage cars on display will be available for children.”
Ten artists will display their art on Sunday. Live music will be performed throughout the day, and there will be food available from several gourmet food trucks.
“This event immediately puts Akron on the map in the upper circles of car collecting,” Schultz says. “Many of the automobiles you’ll see will have also appeared at the Concours at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island and St. John’s.”
He says an admission ticket for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is $300. “Our ticket price is $35, which includes a program and several free events on Sunday,” Schultz says. “I’d call that a screaming bargain.”
This event is not only for serious car enthusiasts, he says, but for entire families that “appreciate these marvelous pieces of ‘rolling sculpture.’”
For more information, visit the Concours website at concours.stanhywet.org.
The Awards Ceremony
Judges for the Concours come from throughout the United States and Canada. The judges represent a wealth of knowledge about the automobile: design, engineering, styling and history. Their task is to judge the automobiles based not only on their quality of restoration but on the automobile’s significance: design innovation, fabrication, engineering — and elegance. The term most often used in this type of judging is “French style.” In each class, there is generally a best in class award plus two awards of distinction.
The Stan Hywet Concours Souvenir Poster
The original artwork for the souvenir poster was created by Jay Koka, of Waterloo, Ontario, a founding member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society (AFAS). AFAS members display their works at the top Concours events in the United States, including Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. The automobile featured in the Stan Hywet Concours poster is a 1932 Duesenberg SJ Tourster by Derham owned by Judge Joseph C. Cassini of West Orange, N.J.