Classic hot rods highlight St. Anthony arts festival

Tim Sturrock

Mark Anderson, 55, cruised around the cobblestone streets near St. Anthony Main on Saturday and Sunday in his custom golf cart equipped with a horn that whistles a cat call, an adjusted governor and purple flames painted on the side.

“Flames make it go faster” said Anderson, the show director of the Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, an event that combined hot rods, music, sculptures, paintings and more.

“There’s art and cars, and we consider cars to be art,” Anderson said.

Anderson displayed his 1962 Dodge Dart at the show, one of the many cars he’s restored during his lifetime.

The festival, gracing the banks of the Mississippi for the last four years, brings out cars from a 1913 Model T Ford to a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper to a 2001 Monte Carlo memorializing NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt.

Anderson said most of the exhibitors range in age from 35 to 65, and have motor oil running through their veins and in their family.

Two-thirds of the owners maintain their own cars, Anderson said.

John Miller, 42, doesn’t. He said he lacks the expertise but loves his car. Miller said most of the exhibitors are just kids except with larger, more expensive toys.

“It’s the car I’ve always wanted,” Miller said. His black 1960 Chevrolet Impala convertible normally spends this weekend every year at a ’50s car show in St. Paul. This year, he can attend both because St. Paul’s show is scheduled for next weekend.

Orono police officer Mike Carlson’s 1967 black Camaro, with lights on the top and a DARE sticker on the door, also does the parade circuit. It doesn’t have a siren though. “It’s pretty noisy, you’d never hear the siren anyway,” Carlson said. Paid for by donations, it’s faster than a squad car, Carlson said, reaching up to 128 miles per hour in 10 seconds.

Anderson, whose family got him interested in cars, laments the “econobox design” and lack of change in cars today. He said not as many young people take as much interest in cars as his generation did. But on Saturday, two young men, 17 and 18, and their rods participated in the annual event.

“The future is not us,” Anderson said.

He expects the high performance cars and limited edition Mustangs will be in the majority at future car shows.

Although cars were more visible, art stands also drew attention from passers-by.

John Laughlin, 49, doesn’t own a classic car. He sculpts faces out of Indiana limestone and has participated in the festival for the last few years. Self-taught, he said the craft is dying.

Laughlin said he’s handed his card out to people curious about renovating buildings with damaged limestone in Minnesota but has received no calls.

But, he said, people still enjoy stone carvings: “Its something entertaining, unique, that makes people smile.”


Tim Sturrock encourages comments at [email protected]