- - words // annika perry | photos // logan reaves & emilio rocha
The third weekend of January in Wichita brought three days of incredible cars, great food, live music and a way to give back to the community.
The 60th annual Cars for Charities Starbird-Devlin car show was nothing less than spectacular. Every inch of Century II in downtown Wichita was packed full of custom built vehicles, bikes, model cars and vendors. The family-friendly event showcased the artwork and ingenuity of car builders across the country, with all of the proceeds benefiting two Wichita charities, The Arc of Sedgwick County and Starkey, Inc.
The Rod and Customs Charity Car Show was started by Daryl Starbird in 1957. After 54 years, he passed the torch to Cars for Charities board president, Tim Devlin, owner of Devlin Rod and Customs located at 1611 E Douglas in downtown Wichita. Six years ago, the board members sat down to discuss the future of the show. Devlin knew making the show as family-friendly as possible was the key to keeping the tradition alive, and so he set to work finding charities to support and adding numerous children's activities. Starkey and The Arc were chosen because they are like-minded organizations who work well together and their work is close to the hearts of many on the board. The Arc and Starkey provide help and opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. "I love getting to help these organizations out. Handing them that check is one of the best feelings there is." said Devlin.
There was a wide range of custom built vehicles, bikes, and model cars from everywhere around the country. Though anyone is allowed to enter their vehicle for consideration to be in the show, the committee has to be somewhat selective. Most often, being denied comes down to the amount of available space. Cars never before seen in Sedgwick County who entered the show also had the option of applying to be in the Magnificent 7. The selection committee then processed all of the entries in that category and picked the seven best to be debuted at the show. The seven finalists selected were awarded $2,000 and the winner received an additional $3,000.
Seeing smiles on kids' faces and a love for the automotive bloom is another reason Devlin loves this show. There is an entire area dedicated to kids and there is no shortage of activities that they can participate in. "It's such a great feeling to know these kids are enjoying themselves and parents aren't forced to pay for it. These kids can make a model car, which in turn makes them want to build more, then build and enter in the bicycle contest, then eventually enter a car, and just like that, a new car enthusiast has joined the Wichita car community.
The car community in Wichita is ever growing, and the people who share a love of cars are genuinely good people with a contagious passion they want to share with others. The Starbird-Devlin Rod and Customs show is for everyone, car enthusiasts, those wanting to contribute to a local charity or families looking for something different to do on a cold January weekend. It's important to come to this show and feel the love and admiration others have for their horseless buggies.
If you missed this year’s incredible event make sure to mark your calendar for next year, this is a show that should be experienced by everyone! The cars and bikes on display are pieces of rolling artwork, it takes true craftsmanship to create the intricate, unique builds that sprawled across Century II. Whether the hook of volunteering, love of cars, or just the appeal of getting to spend quality time with family gets your engine revving with excitement, this is an event that should not be missed by anyone at all. Having the chance to see cars built with such passion while being able to help out two incredible local charities is one of the best experiences around.