A friend of mine who has been a participant at the OCF for many years met recently with John Neilson. Those following the changes announced for this year's OCF will recognize Mr. Neilson as the author of the letter announcing the changes at the OCF that was sent last month to past participants.
By way of background, according to this website:
"John is Vice President for Venues of Museums and Attractions at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. In his current role John is responsible for the leadership and coordination of a strategic direction for Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, including the quality, improvement and delivery of guest experiences, staff excellence, alignment, and the financial performance of the venues."
When my friend met with Mr. Neilson the objective was to both express my friend's concerns regarding the changes at the OCF and gain an understanding of the thought process that lead to the changes. Unfortunately, my friend did not leave the meeting feeling good about the direction that the OCF is headed. Rather my friend left the meeting with the following impressions and perceptions:
(1) the OCF festival had considered rolling out the changes over a period time but decided to make them all at once; beyond that it was not clear how much thought had gone into the changes or their implementation,
(2) the changes are driven by profit motives and the new look of the Henry Ford,
(3) they do not want to be known as a car museum,
(4) they are not particularly concerned as to whether the car shows continue as they are a hassle for them, they consume a lot of manpower, and they are not profitable from a financial perspective,
(5) the OCF and MM get in the way of weddings and other activities at the Henry Ford that generate net profits,
(6) when the $25 registration fee was implemented some time ago participation dropped off the first year and then came back stronger than ever; they believe that this pattern will repeat even with the implementation of the nonrefundable $50 per car application fee,
(7) the $50 fee will weed out participants and make the show more manageable, and maybe increase the overall quality of the cars participating in the OCF,
(8) they are interested in how to make the show relevant to the general public, especially the younger generation that is focused on electronics; it was not clear as to whether or not they have a plan as to how to accomplish that objective,
(9) the OCF’s hope is that participants will act as docents and stay at their cars dressed in period clothing and explain their cars to the general public.
Before closing I wish to be VERY CLEAR with respect to a few details:
I was NOT present at the meeting, and while I believe the information set forth above to be truthful and accurate, it is heresay, and must be taken as such.
From my perspective, the fact is things change with the passage of time....and the changes being implemented at the OCF are just another example of that fact.
Based upon what I have learned from my friend regarding his meeting with Mr. Neilson regarding this matter, I suspect that notwithstanding the concerns being expressed by fellow car collectors and OCF enthusiasts, be it in letters, email messages, phone calls and / or meetings, this year's OCF will unfold in accordance with the new policies set forth in the letter Mr. Neilson sent out last month.
Take all this for what it's worth. And if you are wondering why my friend did not post this message himself, although he is a Model T Ford enthusiast, he does not frequent this site. He is, however, aware that I am posting this information and reviewed it before I posted it.
There you have it.
My suggestion is that everyone boycott the OCF.
Furthermore- if you have an annual membership - do not renew it - if you have a lifetime membership seriously consider cancelling it.
Do not financially support this institution until the attitude of management changes.
The only thing that speaks to greed is the absence of money.
Thank you for the information. Purely by coincidence I posted another thread suggesting the September Glidden Revival Tour as an alternative for some. I know the tour organizers, and am sure they would help accommodate older cars should some Dearborn to Lansing tour participants opt for the Nebraska tour.
It looks like my only "set in stone" tour/event this year will be the Glidden.
My take on the above:
1. Mr Neilson is not interested in automobiles.
2. The Henry Ford is not known as a 'CAR' museum, so I do not know where that line comes from.
3. One car show in September does not make everyone think that the Henry Ford is a car museum.
4. There cannot be that many people getting married on that one weekend that it affects the museum's bottom line.
5. Electronics is a problem for every venue, not just museums, and does not have a place in a historical museum.
I think the best thing anyone can do is skip the OCF this year and see what happens. Don't hold a grudge against the management. They are trying something new. Let them see what happens if no one shows up. Use that weekend to take your car(s) to a show at another venue and enjoy that weekend like you always have in the past. Only then will we all learn.
#9 tells me there will not be any car games anymore? We always did this but we also enjoyed our drives,races,and visiting with friends! Nope! I think we are done! Bud in Wheeler,Mi.
Like I said in a previous posts, I live in California and have only shown a car at OCF twice and that was mainly because a good friend worked at the Museum. Due to the distance, OCF is not something I would do on a regular basis. That being said, I just don't understand what the big deal is about this show when there are so many other events that occur throughout the country. Between the HCCA, AACA, MTFCA, etc etc there is no shortage of tours and events that are far more interesting and more welcoming that OCF. I would much rather be on a long distance tour where I can travel from A to B instead of driving around in circles in an amusement park.
For the effects of these changes to the OCF, please see the summary of the poll I just posted on the tread "Old Car Festival Poll, Going or Not Going".
I think that is the reason we dropped out of the Model A club.No time to sit and talk with friends,their whole point was to see who could push a Model A the most miles in a weekend.I live in the country and i drive either the 14 or 29 when i want and where i want! I'm sure going to miss a lot of friends! Bud.
Museums are having a hard time being "relevant" to the public as kids that were raised on video games now morph into parents and young adults. This generation I call the "Not Before ME" generation--for them nothing that happened before they were around is important. I saw on driving a car with the bumper sticker, "If it's too loud, You're too Old!" Uh, my generation had (has) had very LOUD music--in fact it is why hearing aids is a high-growth industry!
So, this is encroaching Museum Management. How do you get folks to attend (and spend money) at your museum? OK, let's rent it out for Weddings, Social Events, etc. Voila, Money!! And we didn't even need any docents to explain and protect the displays!
Ron, I too, have never been to the OCF, but to call the HF grounds "an amusement park" is a real put-down to such an incredible gathering of historic buildings in an appropriate setting. It's not make-believe like Disneyland, etc.--it's the real stuff! I think that's what makes it so special. If I lived a lot closer, I'd have been there. Now?? Doesn't sound go great, and if the HF managers continue down this direction, it will fade from significance.
One of the things they are missing is the amount of attention the HF gets from this event--and a heck of a lot of free publicity.
Former Museum Curator
I kind of figured this was the way they are going. I said in another thread that I did not think THF was to interested in hosting car shows anymore and it sounds like I was right.
I have another question here. Are they even going to allow the open driving anymore?
I would guess number 9 probably answers that.I can't believe a few weddings would bring in more profit than the OCF with the participation and increased visitors. A total boycott is the only thing that will smarten them up. If they do rule out the open driving and the gas light tour, it's just another car show.
I don't get it
#3 They don't want it to be known for a car museum!
Henry Ford didn't make his money selling Wheaties. He made by manufacturing cars, if he wasn't successful selling cars then he wouldn't have the money to experiment and explore the other interests in his life.
Dave Hjortnaes in his post above observed that John Neilson may not be interested in automobiles.
That post caused me to look for a Twitter account for Mr. Neilson. I found one. Dave may well be correct.
For anyone interested, here is a link to Mr. Neilson's Twitter posts:
A total boycott is their hope, then they have a good reason to cancel the OCF; nobody came!
Sadly, it appears that's where things are headed there now.
Sorry but I don't get that from reading his Twitter posts.
He supports the military - likes football - likes the outdoors ....
Sounds like an ok guy to me ....
Florida Freighter Jim
Your post: "Sorry, but I don't get that from reading his twitter posts."
What is it that you don't get?
I never suggested that John isn't a good guy. And, his twitter account does indeed suggest that he supports the military, and likes football and the outdoors. That's all very clear.
What's not clear is that Mr. Neilson has an interest in automobiles.
Where do you see in Mr. Neilson's twitter account any suggestion or evidence that he does indeed have an interest in automobiles? That was the point of my post. Not whether or not Mr. Neilson is a good guy, or supports the military, or likes football or likes the outdoors.
Just because someone does not post car related tweets does not preclude them from being a car enthusiast or appreciator or " may not be interested in automobiles " ......
Florida Freighter Jim
Your point is well taken. However, I suspect that if one were to review tweets made by individuals known to be interested in automobiles I suspect that one would find tweets which mention automobiles.
Everyone who has an interest in the matter can draw their own conclusion. You've drawn yours and I've drawn mine.
I tried to draw a conclusion once but my Crayola broke.
Thank you for starting this thread.
It gives Insight into what is really going on at The Henry Ford.
Whoever hires Upper Management at The Henry Ford ...
Whether it is a Board Of Directors or a single individual ....
They needed to be Enlightened about the Derailing Train that will never leave the station again - the direction things are currently headed in ..
I started another thread here about the job opening posted February 10th by the Henry Ford for a position planning events.
My belief is that The Henry Ford has a fundamental purpose that is being ignored by current management.
If Management is tasked to improve " The Bottom Line " and directed to do so in whatever manner is deemed appropriate - there are going to be First Class Dumb@ss Decisions made that - ironically - cost more money than they save in the Long Run.
If you want to get the attention of Bean Counters - immediately diminish the incoming revenue they see in Their Ledgers ....
That is the only thing that will effect a Change Of Direction.
Florida Freighter Jim
(Message edited by enclosed_ford_transport on February 16, 2017)
(Message edited by enclosed_ford_transport on February 16, 2017)
I think it would be interesting to know how The Henry Ford, and Ford Motor Company are separated. It seems to me, that the institution would have much more nobility(?) were it supported by the automaker. The idea of a for-profit venue is hard to sustain, in present times more than ever. I feel that the current management are short-sighted. It has always amazed me that Mr. Ford had the forethought to gather all the things together in the museum and village, before they were all that special. He must have been considered very odd because of what he was doing at the time.
It is my understanding, and I may well be incorrect, that The Henry receives meaningful support from the Ford Foundation.
Although Henry Ford and Edsel Ford established the Ford Foundation, there is apparently no connection between the Ford Motor Company and the Ford Foundation.
It is also my understanding that there is no connection between The Henry and the Ford Motor Company.
Please correct me if I am mistaken.
For those interested, here is a link to a website which has some information regarding the Ford Foundation:
The Henry Ford is not connected with Ford Motor Company or the Ford Foundation.
Taken right from The Henry Ford website mission page:
"Our Present- With the advent of the digital revolution and advances in modern technology, The Henry Ford is finding new ways to achieve its mission."
And that mission is, the destruction of the Old Car Festival. That will be what John Neilson will be remembered for - His legacy!
The Henry Ford may not be as directly linked to the Ford Foundation as it once was, but it still receives funding from them. While today they give largely to liberal activist causes, The Ford Foundation's Form 990 for 2014 shows they made a $250K contribution to The Edison Institute. Though a separate entity, it may also be of interest that they gave the same amount to the Henry Ford Estate. There may well be others of interest to us, but their 990 is very long and I quit looking after finding this. My assumption is this is likely an annual recurring contribution: