RM Sotheby's owner and CK Mayor Darrin Canniff pose next to the Batmobile during the 2019 Retrofest announcement. February 21, 2019. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Parade, cruise, and concert kick off busy weekend in Canada’s Classic Car Capital

Last-minute preparations and plans are underway for what’s being billed as a “world-class event” in Chatham-Kent.

Mayor Darrin Canniff is praising the weekend’s RetroFest / RM Sotheby’s 40th Anniversary Celebration as “a spectacle in any community across the planet” adding that it has been amazing to see the way the community has come together.

“I have never experienced so much buzz about any event in Chatham-Kent as this one,” said Canniff. “It’s a perfect example of the community coming together… there are people from all over the planet coming to see Chatham-Kent and we collectively as a community are going to reach out, hug them, and say, ‘Welcome!'”

RM Auctions founder Rob Myers is also ramping up excitement for the weekend and while he remains coy on who all of his “special guests” might be, he did let on that the municipal airport would “be interesting to photograph this weekend with all of the jets sitting there.”

Myers also reiterated that there will be several once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for classic car enthusiasts to see some very rare vehicles, some of which are usually locked away in private collections.

“The [Concours d’Elegance] at RM on Saturday is — even in my eyes — it’s as good as Pebble Beach or anywhere else in the world,” said Myers. “We’ve got some spectacular iron, so for people who like cars, you’ll never see anything like this ever again — especially in Chatham, Ontario.”

Organizers said approximately 1,500 tickets have already been presold for that show, which will feature some of the rarest cars in the world including a 1937 Cadillac Series 90 Hartmann Cabriolet and a 1933 Delage D8S Roadster by De Villars (both pictured below).

Tickets for that event are $20 with all of the proceeds benefiting the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent.

Another highlight of the weekend for Myers will be the parade through downtown Chatham, which will kick off a weekend packed with free family fun along with several fundraising events.

That parade, starting at 5 p.m. Friday at the Civic Centre in Chatham, will include several one-of-a-kind attractions including a “chicken truck” that Myers said was only just recently restored in California along with a pair of mechanical elephants, which were reportedly showcased at the World’s Fair in 1940 — also recently restored by RM.

Myers said those elephants will “absolutely” have passengers, adding he may try to get Mayor Canniff perched atop one of them. The parade is expected to include several guest appearances including one by Sam Roberts — possibly in a 1960s Mustang — just a few hours before he takes the stage at Tecumseh Park in Chatham for a concert that will benefit the Foundation of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

While the parade is expected to draw a large crowd, anticipation continues to build for the classic car cruise as well, following the parade. More than 600 cars are expected to take part in that cruise, which is taking a different route this year. You can find that route below:

The annual classic car show, which will take over the streets of downtown Chatham on Saturday, is also expected to draw a record number of entries.

Connie Beneteau with the Historic Downtown Chatham BIA said as of Thursday, they had already pre-registered more than 500 classic cars for Saturday’s show — double what they usually get. She added organizers are anticipating that more than 1,000 vehicles could end up taking part in the show.

Because of an anticipated influx of vehicles — classic and otherwise — organizers are also offering a free shuttle service to and from downtown Chatham starting at 3 p.m. Friday from the former Target parking lot. It will then drop riders off at Fifth Street at Thames Street and pick them up again for return trips at the east end of Fifth Street, south of King Street.

The free shuttle service will also be available on a continuous loop on Saturday from the former Target parking lot to Wellington Street and Fifth Street, the Park Avenue Business Centre, and the RM Classic Cars Headquarters.

In addition to all of those events, Tecumseh Park in downtown Chatham will be filled with family-friendly activities all day on Saturday and there will be a Big Sugar concert at the Capitol Theatre in Chatham Saturday night. Tickets for that concert are almost sold out with only around 60-70 left as of Thursday afternoon.

You can find a full schedule of events for the weekend by clicking here.