Classic cars lining the streets of Downtown Chatham during Retrofest (Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s)

Retrofest, RM Sotheby’s gear up for milestone weekend in CK

Organizers of RetroFest and the RM Sotheby’s 40th Anniversary are putting the final touches on preparations for the big weekend.

The event runs from June 21-22, with RM Sotheby’s partnering up with the RetroFest Classic Car Festival to create a variety of events for more than just car enthusiasts.

“Attendees can expect two days filled with enhanced RetroFest programming alongside anniversary events put on by RM Sotheby’s in Downtown Chatham, Tecumseh Park, and on the RM Grounds at One Classic Car Drive in Blenheim,” said RM Sotheby’s press officer, Desirée Swance.

The weekend will kick off on Friday with a parade at the Civic Centre in Chatham followed by a variety of family-friendly events as follows:


Friday – Downtown Chatham and Tecumseh Park

3:00 p.m. – Shuttle service begins at the former Target parking lot, dropping off at Fifth St at Thames and picking up at Fifth Street east side, south of King Street
5:00 p.m. – A special RM 40th Anniversary Kick-Off Parade beginning at the Civic Centre
6:00 p.m. – The annual RetroFest Car Cruise starting at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre
6:00 p.m. – Gates open for entertainment by Sam Roberts Band with Walkin’ 47 at Tecumseh Park, show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday – Downtown Chatham and Tecumseh Park

8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. – Shuttle service available on a continuous loop from the former Target parking lot to Wellington and Fifth Street, Park Avenue Business Centre and the RM Classic Cars Headquarters
10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. – Family activities all day at Tecumseh Park including zip line, bouncy castle, soapbox derby, petting zoo, Junior Judges, the LEGO brick experience, Ms. Retrofest contest and Hagerty Test Garage
12:00 p.m. – Southwind Buoys performance at Nest Realty
2:00 p.m. – Free Dirt County hoedown at the Tecumseh Park bandshell
3:00 p.m. – Kent Historic Auto Club/RetroFest Car Show winners announced
4:00 p.m. – Free Chaser Band performance at the Tecumseh Park bandshell
7:00 p.m.– Doors open for the Big Sugar concert with Superfly at the Capitol Theatre, show begins at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday – RM Sotheby’s Headquarters at One Classic Car Drive,  Blenheim 

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The RM40 Concours d’Elegance – an exclusive look at some of the rarest and most beautiful cars in the world
Classic car cruise-in – enthusiasts and collectors are encouraged to drive their classic cars and will receive priority parking
Art at RM – featuring more than 60 artists and crafters, with some artists offering Make & Take projects throughout the day
RM Auto Restoration Open House – the shop will be open to the public for a glimpse at what each department does and some of the exciting cars they’re currently working on
Graffiti artist competition –  artists from across Southwestern Ontario participating in a live competition. Visitors to the RM grounds will have the opportunity to participate in an exciting community art project
Live music – by local talent, Toast & Jam inside the concourse
Duke’s Harley Davidson Vintage & Custom Motorcycle Show
Hagerty Ride & Drive – attendees will have the chance to get behind the wheel of an iconic classic car and take their dream cruise. All test drives available on a first-come, first-serve basis; and plenty of kids and family activities, as well as food vendors, including Bayside Brewery and Roesh Meats.


All of the proceeds from the weekend’s events will go back into the community, supporting several local organizations, including the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent, the Chatham-Kent Hospice Foundation and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation.

Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s

Photo courtesy RM Sotheby’s

To coincide with the 40th anniversary, RM Sotheby’s has released a special-edition magazine reflecting on four decades of restoring and auctioning cars. Digital copies are available online and complimentary print copies will be handed out during the anniversary weekend.

Sons of Kent Brewing Company is also getting in on the occasion. They’ve worked with RM Sotheby’s to create a limited edition craft beer to celebrate the 40th Anniversary, dubbed the “RM 40 Classic Lager”. The brew is a nod to a California common lager and features a specially designed can.

“When RM Sotheby’s award-winning, in-house creative team was given the task of developing a beer can design for the company’s 40th Anniversary, the designers knew they had to go back to the “roots” of the company to pay homage with simple creative,” said Swance. “The final and winning design began with the idea that to restore something and bring it back to glory is like mining for gold – it takes grunt work to get to the final product.”

The beer will be sold in limited quantities and while supplies last in six-packs at Sons of Kent beginning Friday at noon. It will also be available on draft at Sons of Kent and the Chilled Cork Restaurant and Lounge, as well as in single cans at various locations through the 40th Anniversary weekend, including the Sam Roberts Band concert on Friday.

Several other events will be taking place across the municipality on the week including the Thamesville Threshing Festival at Ferguson Park, The Pain Court Truck and Tractor Pull and the Boulevard of Dreams Erieau Car Show.

Click here for more information on the events taking place and to see a list of road closures.