RetroFest A Resounding Success
(BLENHEIM, ON) – RM Sotheby’s and RM Auto Restoration hosted a 40th Anniversary celebration weekend in Chatham-Kent on 21-22 June. Partnering with RetroFest Classic Car Festival, RM created the ultimate celebration for car enthusiasts and the community.
The 40th Anniversary celebration in RM Sotheby’s hometown region of Chatham-Kent, Ontario on 21-22 June, gathering tens of thousands of attendees from across the region and around the world, and raising $250,000 with more to come for three important local organizations: the Children’s Treatment Centre of Foundation of Chatham-Kent, Chatham-Kent Hospice Foundation, and the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation.
The 40th Anniversary weekend kicked off on Friday with the release of the limited-edition RM 40 Classic Lager, developed in partnership with Sons of Kent Brewing Co. A lineup down the street from the local brewery formed an hour ahead of the launch, with people eagerly waiting to meet Rob Myers, founder, chairman, and CEO of RM Sotheby’s, and to purchase the one-of-a-kind beer. The commemorative six-packs went on sale at noon and sold out in just 40 minutes.
Next on the schedule was the RM 40th Kick-Off Parade in downtown Chatham at 5pm, which began at the Civic Centre and made its way down King Street to the Retro Suites Hotel.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with our 40th Anniversary celebration,” said Myers. “When we were still in the early planning stages I’d said that I hoped we would have more than 1,000 classic cars in Chatham-Kent for this event and we achieved that. Everywhere you looked, you saw a collector car.
Thousands lined the streets to watch more than 40 wild rides pass by, including two mechanical elephants, three eclectic vintage buses, and more. Leading the parade was Myers and special celebrity guest, American singer-songwriter, Kid Rock in the one-of-a-kind 1964 Pontiac Bonneville “Hank Williams Jr” Custom Convertible.
Also appearing in the parade were Wayne Carini, star of Chasing Classic Cars, driving Myers’ personal Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, and Sam Roberts driving a Shelby GT350. Following the parade was the 19th annual Retrofest Car Cruise, which saw a record-breaking 660 classic cars touring the roads of Chatham-Kent.
On Friday night, entertainment was provided by Sam Roberts Band with local act Walkin’ 47 in Tecumseh Park. Over 4,000 excited fans packed the park, singing and dancing along to the bands’ greatest hits. The concert finished with a bang, when Kid Rock joined Sam Roberts Band on stage for the final song Brother Down.
With tickets selling for $20 plus handling fees ahead of the concert and $25 at the door, proceeds from the event supported the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation.
CKHAF also hosted an online 50/50 draw, which tripled in jackpot size over the RM 40th weekend and is now creeping close to a record set by the International Plowing Match as the largest 50/50 draw in Chatham-Kent’s history.
The current record of $168,000 was set last September and the current total of the CKHAF’s 50/50 draw as of Monday, 24 June is hovering at $135,000 with two days left for residents of Ontario to buy tickets.
The winner will be drawn at 1:00 pm on Thursday, 27 June. Tickets can be purchased at the foundation office located at 9 Ursuline Ave in Chatham between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm or online at ckhaf.ca.
The 40th Anniversary fun continued early Saturday with the Kent Historic Auto Club Classic Car Show on King Street, hitting record-breaking numbers of nearly 500 pre-registered cars and a final total of 800 collector cars on display throughout the day.
Featured highlights of the show included Pat Tribou’s 1928 Duesenberg Model A Phaeton (Wayne Carini’s Favourite Car), an Austin-Healey owned by Blair Harber (RM Auto Restoration’s Best in Show), Brent Merrill’s 1931 Willys-Knight (the Mayor’s Choice Award winner), and a 1929 Ford owned by Bob Boles (the BIA’s Choice Award winner).
“It was an amazing weekend,” said Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff. “Seeing so many people come together to celebrate RM Sotheby’s 40th anniversary and raise funds for our community made me very proud. It couldn’t have been better.”
Just down the street, Tecumseh Park featured free live country music by local bands Dirt Country and The Chasers, as well as a plethora of family activities including, zip lining, a bouncy castle, soap box derby, a petting zoo, Junior Judges, the LEGO Brick Experience with LEGO artist Graeme Dymond, the annual Ms Retrofest contest, and Hagerty Test Garage.
Many attendees took advantage of the free shuttle from Chatham to the RM Grounds where the RM Classic Car Exhibit was transformed into the RM 40th Concours D’Elegance, featuring more than 40 of the rarest, most beautiful, and most valuable cars in the world, as well as live music by local talent Toast and Jam.
Visitors were lined up throughout the day to enjoy an exclusive look at an entire lineup of blue-chip cars from some of the world’s most iconic brands. Proceeds from the Concours will directly benefit the Children’s Treatment Centre Foundation of Chatham-Kent.
“With more than 25,000 people venturing downtown on Friday and another 25,000 at RM on Saturday, the RM 40th Anniversary was one of the biggest events Chatham-Kent has ever seen,” said Fannie Vavoulis, RM 40th Anniversary event chair.“I could not be more proud of our planning committee and volunteers for putting on such an amazing event and I’m very thankful to our community for coming together and enjoying it all safely and happily.”
With an estimated 25,000 locals and out-of-town visitors joining the fun at RM Grounds on Saturday, other highlights.
- a classic car cruise-in, an RM Auto Restoration Open House, which gave the public a glimpse into the work of the award-winning craftsmen as well as the 100-year-old streetcar currently under restoration for the City of Windsor
- Duke’s Harley Davidson Vintage and Custom Motorcycle Show
- the Hagerty Ride and Drive Experience, which gave attendees a chance to get behind the wheel of a classic car, and
- plenty of kids and family activities as well as food vendors, including Bayside Brewery and Roesch Meats.
Art at RM hosted by 519 Events and Promotions was also a hit. It featured more than 60 artists and crafters onsite. A graffiti artist competition took place at the front of the RM Grounds where six artists from across southwestern Ontario participated in a live competition using shipping containers provided by Portable Storage as their canvases.
The first place prize of $1,000 was won by Taymin Kane of Mad Methodz.
The weekend celebrations were closed out Saturday night by a sold-out performance from Canadian rock band Big Sugar, led by vocalist Gordie Johnson and his signature double neck Gibson guitar, and opening local act Superfly, at the Chatham Capitol Theatre. A hugely successful evening, over 1,200 music lovers crowded the theatre to enjoy hits like Diggin’ A Hole and Turn the Lights On.
Proceeds from the concert benefited the Chatham-Kent Hospice Foundation.
“We had such a great turnout this weekend and we not only raised a few eyebrows, but we raised an impressive amount of money for three charities that are very close to my heart,” said Meyers. “I’m beyond thankful to all the organizations and volunteers that got involved to make this truly the best collector car weekend that Canada has ever seen. It won’t be something anyone soon forgets.”
In honour of RM’s 40th Anniversary, long-time friend and supporter of the RM Sotheby’s brand, couture watchmaker Richard Mille donated an exceptional watch, the RM 11-03, to be sold at the company’s flagship Monterey auction 15 through 17 August this year with all proceeds benefitting the Myers family’s local charities of choice.
Mille’s timepieces are some of the most sought-after examples of luxury watches with waiting lists in excess of a year for many new models. Estimated to be worth between $125,000 and $175,000, the RM 11-03 is the brand’s sportiest watch to date, featuring skeletonized automatic wining movement with a variable-geometry rotor, offering hours, minutes, and seconds, a power reserve of 55 hours, flyback chronograph, a 60-minute countdown timer at 9 o’clock, a 12-hour totalizer, and an oversized date and month indicator.
For more info on the RM 11-03 and upcoming Monterey auction, visit RM Sotheby’s online.