Jim Sarto’s dream car always has been a black-and-white 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air.
The Genoa resident had hoped to buy one when he got his license at age 16, but he wasn’t able to get one until he was much older. Now, for the past 24 years, Sarto has been showing off the pristine vehicle at car shows all over the area.
Sarto was one of 164 car owners who brought their car, truck, motorcycle or tractor to the fifth annual “Cruisin’ to Genoa” car show Saturday.
“I’m an old-school hot rod fan. I just love cars,” Sarto said. “This is a good car show. There are a lot of quality cars, and I always meet a lot of nice people, and that’s what car shows are all about. I don’t care about winning trophies, I just want to meet people and have a good time.”
The show continues to grow in popularity, with overflow trucks and cars lining the middle of downtown Genoa’s Main Street, where hundreds of people strolled through to admire the many varieties of vehicles. All of the proceeds from the show benefit the Genoa Police Department auxiliary unit.
Cortney Strohacker, executive director of the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, said people come from all over the area, and even from surrounding states, to show their cars.
“It’s a hometown tradition, and we like to put on events that are fun for the whole family,” she said. “Everyone loves car shows. You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to come out and have fun. We’ve heard that we’re one of the best, most well-organized shows in the area.”
Larry Luebke of DeKalb was showing off his 1939 “rat rod,” which is a truck he made from the parts of five vehicles. This was the first time he showed the car at the Genoa show, and he said he was enjoying the day.
“I try to hit all the local shows, especially the small, Main Street shows,” Luebke said. “I like seeing all the different cars and learning about people’s different interests. Each car shows people’s unique personalities.”
Ron Sheahan and his wife walked a few short blocks to the show, where Ron Sheahan was admiring many of the cars. He said the Genoa event was a “perfect-sized” car show.
“I’m a car guy, and the quality of the cars here is amazing,” he said. “This brings the small, Main Street community together. It’s also a little nostalgic, but really wonderful.”
The car show is an annual tradition for Sarah Shumway and her family, who live near downtown Genoa.
“There’s always a good turnout with a lot of really cool cars,” she said. “I think shows like this are important because they bring awareness to the fact that Genoa has cool things going on, and it brings people to the area.”
For the second year in a row, the car show featured the Roger Watson Tractor Show, which honors the late Genoa resident who died in 2017. Watson’s son-in-law, Steve Drendel, was showing two of Watson’s old tractors.
“I wanted to show these in memory of Roger. We’re very thankful that Genoa recognizes his commitment to the community,” Drendel said.
Vickie Drendel, Watson’s daughter and Steve Drendel’s wife, said Genoa has gone “above and beyond” by honoring her father.
“He was so instrumental in this community. He always wanted to be involved, and he helped anyone who needed anything,” she said. “This is emotional for me.”