Pam Dudding-Burch
Contributing writer

Kids Power Wheels contest. (l-r) First place- Holley Givens (7 years old), Second – Brayden Slusher (2) and third – Maeleigh Slusher (4). All three received trophies. Givens also received a gift pack for four to the Natural Bridge Zoo while Brayden and Maeleigh received two free kid tickets to the Zoo as well.

With hopeful expectations, the ‘Trilogy’ – Rick Dudding, The Fairground Association and the Craig County Library – opened the gates for a day packed with fun for adults and kids alike.

On Saturday, July 8, the Craig County Fairgrounds was packed with the best of show cars and trucks, Power Wheels kids cars, kids bouncy houses and much more! “You go and look at the cars Daddy” and “I’ll play up here” were common comments from the children as they ran towards the huge bouncy houses that were set up for the eventful day.

Several months ago, the Fairground Association approached Rick ‘CB’ Dudding and asked if he would head up a car show at the Fairgrounds, similar to what he had done last November with his first Wheels4Kids car shows. Dudding agreed and immediately started contacting many of his peers whom he had come in contact with over the years.

“There were about 50 more cars, trucks and motorcycles that said they would be here today,” Dudding shared. However, he added that the 50 that did show up were some of the “best of the best”. “You don’t get any better than some of these that are here,” he said.

He asked Ron and the Throttle Throb Car Show to be the judges, as they were from West Virginia and unfamiliar with most of the entries. “I think we ought to give them a big hand as they did a wonderful job and hope they can come back again,” Dudding shared. He presented them with a special trophy. “We made a lot of new friends and hope to see you in the future,” the judges replied.

Multiple vehicles had so many layers of clear coat that one could use it as a mirror. The colors were bold and beautiful. In fact, one vehicle received a perfect 100 score from the judges. John B. Carter, from Roanoke, entered a candy apple red 1935 Ford Street Rod. “That vehicle was a judge’s dream!” the judges shared. Carter received a trophy for ‘Best of Show – Perfect Score’.

Disappointingly, there was a mix-up on the sheets that were turned in and Carter did not get his trophy at the show. “I tried so hard to have everything perfect,” Dudding shared. “That really bothered me when it got messed up. John B. had a beautiful rod and deserved to be recognized!”

John McCormick from Catawba entered his W900 Kenworth 18-wheeler, and received ‘Best Other’. People seemed to truly enjoy the tour of the truck as McCormick was happy to show it off.

‘Best Mopar’ was won by Randy Zelenak from Roanoke, with his 2014 Dodge Charger. Jon Hutchison of New Castle entered his 1931 Ford Model A and took home the ‘Best Truck’ award. The ‘Top Antique’ was the 1927 Ford Model T of Chelsea Louthen of Roanoke.

Two Ford Mustangs took top awards; Gary Songer from Blacksburg with his 1966 took ‘Best Ford’ and Chip Spangler from Fincastle won ‘Best Race Car’ with his ‘souped up’ ’66. “When he starts that thing, it’ll make your chest rumble,” one guy said laughing.

Joe Dudding from Narrows won ‘Best Chevy’ with his 1987 K30. A 1937 International pickup took ‘Best Street Rod’ of Kyle Sloss and ‘Best of Show’ was won by Darren Frango from New Castle, showing his 1966 Ford F-100 pickup. Also, the ‘big trucks’ as many kids exclaimed, entered as well. These were the ‘ready to ride’, eight high rise trucks from the Craig County Mud Mafia.

The SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team’s huge armored truck from Salem was on display for all to view. Kids as well as adults were welcomed to go inside and even stick their heads out of the top, which is similar to an armored tank.

“We use this vehicle for anything that is high risk or where we feel we may encounter gun fire if a person has barricaded themselves in a house, to transport a prisoner who has had death threats or to rescue an officer that is down and there is a lot of shooting,” Trooper Jim Kennedy explained.

There are seven armored vehicles in the state of Virginia, one for each of the teams. It is also similar to the vehicle used at the Boston Marathon bombing. It is equipped with a large med bag. “We also keep trauma kits on all of our gear,” Kennedy shared. “I have four tourniquets on one vest alone, plus a pressure bandage, for immediate care.”

Sadly, they have had to use the truck in Roanoke City many times as well as Danville. Last year there was a gentleman on the dam at Lake Moomaw, where they had a standoff and used a truck to successfully take him into custody. “Sometimes people don’t want us to have this vehicle, as they feel it is militarization police,” Kennedy shared. “However, when it is needed, they are very happy to see us drive up in it.”

Also, on site was a DUI simulator car, which one could drive through cones. First, people drove through the cones and on the second trip, the police officer had them to wear goggles. “The goggles are programmed to delay your reaction, similar to being impaired by alcohol or drugs,” Kennedy said.

One lady kept laughing as she started driving with the goggles. Another gentleman took down a few cones because he didn’t slow down. Rick Dudding was asked to try it but he refused, jokingly adding, “He’s liable to take me to jail!”

The State Police had one of their vehicles on display and open to answering any questions. Some took a step back when the car started…it sounded more like a racecar than a standard police car.

“It has a little extra under the hood!” Dudding said with a smile. The Fairground Association also brought in three big bouncy houses, which proved to be a great success with the cloud coverage most of the day.

Dudding met Jean Lewis and her husband Norm at a car show and shared with them the vision of Wheels4Kids. They came and created character balloons and gave the kids glitter tattoos all day long. “This is what we love to do!” Jean shared. “It’s our ministry to love these kids!”

The CC Library had a yard sale and a booth with books and many other things available. There was also a swap meet where the car show owners could ‘swap’ their goods or sell them. Plenty of food was sold from the Fairgrounds Association concession and Dave’s Live Sounds provided great background music all day. Everyone agreed that David was a great emcee for the event.

Still, the best part was the Kids Power Wheels contest. The same gentlemen judged the Power Wheels. First place- Holley Givens (7 years old), Second – Brayden Slusher (2) and third – Maeleigh Slusher (4). All three received trophies. Givens also received a gift pack for four to the Natural Bridge Zoo while Brayden and Maeleigh received two free kid tickets to the Zoo as well.

“I’m really happy,” Holley smiled. Brayden just grinned and sat in his car while Maeleigh grabbed her trophy and showed it to everyone. “This is what it’s all about!” Dudding said with a smile.

The special showcase was from CATS (Children’s Assistive Technology Service), who converts Power Wheels for children with disabilities or loss of limbs. Representative Cathie Cummins shared the concept with many who came by. However, the greatest part of the whole day, according to Dudding, was when Clayton Cassell surprisingly found out he was going to get a conversion Power Wheels. Cassell, from Craig County, was born without partial limbs. “I’m so excited!” he exclaimed.

Over 50 door prizes were given from several businesses and organizations: Woodson Honda – Roanoke, Lowes – Salem, Anchor Truck Accessories – Salem, O’Reilly’s – Salem, Advance Auto – Peters Creek, Melrose Avenue, Covington and Lewisburg WV, Auto Zone – Melrose Avenue, Covington and Lewisburg WV, Kut-n’ Up Hair Salon – Covington, Greenbrier Ford – Lewisburg WV, Expressions Salon and Spa – Lewisburg WV, Harrah’s Salon – Covington, Pinehurst Exxon – Covington, Tractor Supply – Covington, Napa – Union WV, Shelor’s – Christiansburg, Pinetop Restaurant, Food Country, IGA Express, Hollywood’s Restaurant – Roanoke, Edible Arrangements – Roanoke, Abuelo’s – Roanoke, Mama Maria’s – Roanoke, Golden Corral – Roanoke, Natural Bridge Zoo, Greenridge Splash – Roanoke and Depot Lodge – Paint Bank.

Randy Zelenak won the 50/50 of $86 and Kyle Sloss took home the grand prize of a nights lodging at the Paint Bank Depot across from the Swinging Bridge Restaurant. Other raffles included; Darrell Frango won a Grinder and Camron Fisher won the Breaker bar. Pam Dudding-Burch won the Ginger’s jewelry cross necklace and Joe Dudding won the $50 Gift Certificate from Gingers.

“I couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone,” Dudding added. “I want to thank all of the people who volunteered today to help make this show a success and if I try to name them I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out because there were so many.” He added a big thank you to David Givens and Dave’s Live Sounds for providing the music and emceeing the event. “He’s one of the best,” Dudding said.

Dudding sends thanks to all of the donors who provided wonderful door prizes for the event. Every car owner won at least one prize. “I want to especially thank the Fairground Association, the Library for letting me use the Fairgrounds and hopefully we will be able to do this again next year!”

“We want to thank everyone who helped to make this event successful!” Paul Welch, President of the Fairgrounds Association shared. “We hope to have more events like this in the future.”

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