Fathers, cars and memories

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Men and cars, the classic couple. On Saturday, June 18, West Liberty celebrated just that during its annual Ken Ruegsegger Father’s Day Car Show.

The community gathered at the West Liberty Heritage Depot Grounds, where more than 70 classic cars were on display, as well as the ground’s various historical pieces.

“Officially, this is the first annual Ken Ruegsegger Car Show,” said Mike Duytschaver, who was in charge of the event. “It’s been going on informally for about 12 years.”

Ruegsegger, a celebrated and beloved community member, passed away at 82 in March, 2016, surrounded by his family after an eight-month battle with prostate cancer.

In honor of a man who did some much, the unofficial car show was made official and brought to the Depot Grounds last year. Ruegsegger was a member of the Heritage board.

“Ken was never under the impression that it should be anything more than a get together, so everybody just comes, brags, solves world problems and then goes home,” said Duytschaver.

There were no trophies to hand out, nor was there any voting. Cars weren’t strictly organized into classes either. It was about as informal as a car show could get.

Yet, car owners and onlookers were plentiful during the three hour show as classic tunes reverberated through the air.

Meanwhile, the depot museum, one room school house, train engine, caboose, barn and other pieces of history collected on the grounds were open.

Community members could go on a scavenger hunt, walking to each location to get answers regarding the history of the grounds and its grand collection.

“Every year it just seems to get bigger and bigger,” said Kevin Reusegger, the oldest son of Ken Ruegsegger. He rode in from Des Moines on a motorcycle for the event.

Last year it was incredibly hot, about 50 cars showed up to the car show. This year the weather was gorgeous, around 70 cars showed up and hundreds of community members.

“It just impresses me how people knew him (Ken) and his love of cars,” added Kevin. “We’ve run into several people he’s built buildings for that have cars here today.”

Besides West Liberty, cars came from Burlington, Mechanicsville, Cedar Rapids and North Liberty. Most of the drivers knew Ken.

The car show started off unofficially around 12 years ago. Fathers hung out with their classic hot rods under the shade of the grove at the Muscatine Community Fairgrounds.

Last year it changed locations to the Heritage Depot Grounds, were its been able to pick up steam and popularity with people inside and outside of West Liberty.

“Each year we got more and more interest from out of town people,” said Mike Duytschaver. “We thought it would be good to move it to the Depot grounds because of Ken Ruegsegger, who was a member of the Heritage Board.”

It would be fair to say the weather played a large role in the successful turn out. As mentioned before, last year the Ken Ruegsegger Father’s Day Car Show occurred on a 90 plus degree, unbearably hot, day.

Perhaps it was due to the major thunderstorm that rolled through Muscatine County the day before, but the weather was a cool 75-80 degrees with minimal cloud cover on Sunday.

“It’s beautiful, we couldn’t have asked for a better day,” said Duytschaver. “I think this weather has helped. The guys with the really nice cars don’t like to take them out in bad weather.”

And so, what began as an unofficial social gathering a decade ago has turned into a major event in West Liberty. A happy belated Father’s Day to all our fathers in the community!
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