EATON — Approximately 300 cars, trucks, motorcycles, and at least one customized school bus filled the streets of downtown Eaton this weekend as Downtown Eaton Inc. (DEI) hosted the 22nd Annual Old-Fashioned Downtown Saturday Night on Saturday, Oct. 10 from 12-7 p.m.
Previously scheduled for Aug. 22, the show was postponed after Preble County received a rating of Level 3 on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System following a local surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“It takes a lot of planning to put on events like this, whether they happen or not,” DEI President Chris Miley told The Register-Herald on Saturday afternoon. “So, we decided to combine the car and truck show and shoot for early October.”
DEI typically sponsors a Farmer’s Market, a midsummer car show and a fall truck show, according to Miley, as well as placing flower pots downtown and donating to other local events such as White Christmas, Shop with a Cop, and an annual Thanksgiving meal at the Preble County Fairgrounds.
Funding for Downtown Saturday Night comes from registration fees from participants, as well as donations from local businesses and DEI board members, according to Miley, and all proceeds go toward the flower pots downtown, other DEI events, and the causes to which the group donates.
Saturday’s event featured food vendors, live music from local band The Antiques, and a 50/50 raffle, with grand prizes including a rebuilt small-block engine. Jack Smith of Piqua was the winner of the small-block engine, according to Miley, which was built by Billy Moore of Eaton, with parts provided by Larkin-Cobb Chevrolet.
Moe Back, a former pipefitter from Gratis, was one of this year’s participants. Back spent three years customizing his vehicle, a half-ton 1953 International he bought seven years ago and started working on after he retired. The truck sports a firewall made out of a wheelbarrow and headlights fashioned from dog bowls, all purchased from local Preble County businesses.
“I chopped the top on it seven inches, took three inches off the body, and then channelled it onto a home-made frame,” Back said. “I was going to put it back original, but it was so rusty and beat-up. I wanted to build something that was oddball, and that nobody else had.”
Painted black, with orange flames covering the hood and front wheel wells, chrome-covered side-view mirrors fashioned to look like skeletal hands, and the words “Rat Road Construction Ahead” and “If you can read this, you’re too close” emblazoned across the rear, Back’s truck is certainly unique.
“I got to tinkering on it, and if something looked good, it stayed. If it didn’t, I took it back off,” Back said.
Back has taken his truck to 15 or 20 shows this year, he said, including “Cruising with Christ,” an event put on every Thursday night by I Am The Word Ministries in West Elkton.
As for Downtown Saturday Night, DEI thanked exhibitors and spectators for a “successful and fun” show on Saturday evening via the group’s Facebook page. According to Miley, the purpose of DEI is to promote downtown and all Eaton businesses.
“Anything we can do to further the cause and bring people downtown, that’s our goal,” Miley said. “That’s why we do what we do.”
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook or Instagram @mproperenglish