After close to 40 years in Waterdown, the annual Waterdown Car Show and Swap Meet will move outside the town to the Rockton Fairgrounds this fall. While the move wasn’t anticipated until complaints from the Flamborough Soccer Club surfaced after the spring car show at Joe Sams Leisure Park in May, one of the show’s organizers Scott Watson said, “We’re moving on and we want it to be a positive change. It will be a permanent move.”
Watson, whose late father, Harold of Waterdown, co-founded the show 42 years ago with Brian Hounsell of Carlisle, said “We’re signing off and we want to thank people in Flamborough for their fabulous support over the years.”
Organizers are confident the support will continue and the event will grow, especially since the fairgrounds offer free parking, inside vendor space and shaded areas for show cars.
Watson said the show’s four organizers, including himself, his brother Sean, Hounsell and Hounsell’s son, David, decided about three weeks ago to look at other venues that would be suitable for the event, which has attracted as many as 1,000 show cars over its two-day run. They chose the fairgrounds because they are just 20 minutes from Waterdown and are recognized as a superior facility.
Held every spring and fall, the show had been held at the Centre Road park for the past four or five years. Because of the event’s need for a lot of space and the predominance of soccer pitches in the park, disagreements arose between the local soccer club and the show’s organizers over use of the field space. The confrontation came to a head in May when heavy rains caused City of Hamilton staff to cancel soccer on the fields on several days leading up to the car show, but didn’t result in the postponement of the show, which went ahead as scheduled. Soccer parents saw this as “a double standard” and complained, saying that cars driven across the fields would damage the fields more than soccer players running over them. Car show organizers countered that they have always taken great care not to damage the fields and that any damage is minimal.
But Watson stressed all that is behind them now and organizers want to move on in a positive vein.
“I think they will have more room over there; I wish them success,” said René Juraschka, president of the Flamborough Soccer Club. He also explained that the recent conflict was “more an issue about having the car show at Joe Sams when nobody could play soccer (rather) than having the car show at the park.”
Scott’s wife, Angela, said show organizers would have preferred to keep the event in Waterdown, but felt compelled to look for an alternate location in light of the recent dispute. She also noted that they are soccer parents themselves and she played the sport for several years.
Flamborough councilor Judi Partridge, who fielded more than 90 emails from angry soccer parents on the weekend of the spring car show, said she is pleased the show will remain in Flamborough and that its new venue will give it greater opportunity to grow by drawing more guests from nearby Guelph, Kitchener and Cambridge. She also cited the availability of indoor vendor space as a positive change.
The local economy will still benefit, the Ward 15 councillor said, noting that many attending the show will travel through Waterdown and area on their way to Rockton.
The 42nd annual show is slated for September 24 and 25 at the Rockton Fairgrounds, 812 Old Highway 8.