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Toppers tradition continues to roll on

Cody Wendelbo lifts the hood on Al Nelson's 1968 SS/RS Camaro at the Hot Rod Shop in north Fargo. The car will be one of the many rides on display at this weekend's Toppers Car Show. David Samson / Forum News Service

The Fargo Moorhead  Toppers Car Club is celebrating a year of huge milestones -- its 60th anniversary as an active organization and their 55th year of presenting one of the region’s most high profile and well-attended car shows set to take place Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7 at the Veterans Memorial Arena, 1201 7th Ave. E.

The 2013 production promises to be a real show-stopper according to Toppers  member Cody Wendelbo. “This year’s show is going to be great. We have a ton of nice cars coming from all over the region. There will also be a lot of vendors, some the same, but also many new ones selling everything from tools to  jewelry, to toys and food items. It is going to be a fun family-friendly event with something for everyone to see.”

On that note, club organizers are expecting this to be a larger show than normal. “We are expecting a huge turnout this year,” Wendelbo stated. “It seems like interest in old cars is going up in the area. People are interested in revisiting past memories or just making new memories with friends and families and classic cars play a huge role in that for many. It’s always fun to see parents bringing their kids out and see how excited they get to view the cars.”

Included in this year’s showing will be a wide variety of vehicles, among them street and hot rods, muscle cars, restored originals, motorcycles, and several others.

Each year the Toppers focus on a “memory” car that is displayed at the show and as a picture used as a replica on promotional posters and T-shirts. This year’s more than appropriate choice is a 1955 Chevy Wagon correlating with the anniversary date of the show. In addition, a 1932 Plymouth will also be featured.

Wendelbo adds that, as usual, there will also be a variety of other great displays including a regional group bringing in several 1957 model year cars, providing everyone a small look into the different designs and styles from that year, as well as the local Corvette Club showing a number of cars representing body style changes through the years.

The Toppers also help sponsor the West Fargo Cruise Nights which are held the third Thursday of the month during the summer. Wendelbo said this highly successful event has helped spur a new level of interest in classic cars in the FM area, with some of those participants displaying their cars for the first time in this year’s Topper show.

As for entertainment and food, both will also be plentiful. “The Shadows” an ever-popular tribute band to the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison, will be back playing at both 12 and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Concession stands will be available throughout the show.

The annual awards ceremony, always a highlight, is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Wendelbo said there is no doubt the Veterans Arena will once again be filled to the rafters’, commending the facility as an excellent location to host the show. “The Vets Arena staff has been great to work with over the years. It has a ton of floor space and fits our car show perfectly. Last summer they completely rebuilt their parking lot with the high school adding much needed parking.”

Wendelbo said  he’s excited about the upcoming show and the opportunity to tout the success of the longstanding club he’s proud to be affiliated that is now 60-years old.

The history of the Club dates back to 1953, when the organization was founded by Erlyn Carlson, with the intent of promoting a family-based enthusiasm for cars. Present membership sits at 17, with their primary role still committed to that same passion and enthusiasm for vehicles.

Through the years, over 300 people have been Toppers members. The Trademark of the Toppers is and always has been, the black jacket with the white top hat and white lettering. The Clubs first car show was in 1957 in downtown Fargo. In 1960 the Show moved to the Fargo Civic and was  held there until moving to its current West Fargo location in 1991.

As a non-profit organization most of the proceed from the car show, their major yearly event, goes to charity. Through the years, the recipients have included: Make-A-Wish Foundation, Minnkota Chapter of the American Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, Dakota Medical Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Kindred Band Parents, Big Brother-Big Sister programs, the D.A.R.E. program, The Salvation Army, and the Harbor School.

In addition to Wendelbo, present Toppers members include: Richard Barnes, Robert Blattenbauer, Allen Duval, Lenny Fraizer, Kurt Jankowski, Gary Myhre, Jim Patterson, Mike Pella, Courtney Rutherford, Dick Rutherford, Greg Scott, Eric Swenson, Ryan Triepke, Shane Triepke, Kevin Venaas, Cody Wendelbo and Jon Zeien.

Tickets for the 50th annual Toppers Car Show will be available at the door both days of the event. They are also available in advance at all local Stop-N-Go stores through Friday only. Cost is $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Children under 10 years of age will be admitted free, when accompanied by an adult. Toppers Car Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.