A couple of friends of mine met with John Neilson and, in a nutshell, the outlook is not good.
I don't want to beat a dead horse but I thought I would share with you what I know.
Before I go into some detail, let me cut to the bottom line: they were left with the impression that THF doesn't care about either MM, OCF or, the participants.
(I'll try to put conversation notes in narrative form, so bear with me.)
MM and OCF, according to Neilson, do not make money. THF makes more money on weddings on the weekends and the shows interfere with that, (My side note: For past participants or visitors to the shows, you may have noticed some weddings taking place during either show.)
Neilson said they may be looking to combine MM and OCF into one show (My note: thus, freeing up a weekend. But, if they are having problems with the number of cars and trailers at two shows, what makes them think one big show is going to be easier? This also, I speculate, would severely limit the number of cars if the show takes in vehicles 1976 and older.)
Lansing to Dearborn: It was started as a way to publicize OCF. Although my understanding is at first LTD was excluded from OCF, Neilson said they are welcome, just not their trailers. LTD offered to solve the trailer issue for THF (essentially doing THF's work) if they could could get a price break from the $50 registration fee. Neilson, apparently, pretty much said "no", that if they do it for LTD, THF would have to do it for others. Consequently, LTD is doing their own meet and tour and will NOT be going to OCF.
Neilson: THF does not want to be known as an old car museum. They want to be known as an innovation organization (My note: it is my understanding that the name "Henry Ford" will be dropped from the name of the institution.)
Neilson wants participants to dress in period costume and stay with their cars and "narrate" them. (My note: this may be why the Pass In Review, in my opinion, a key part of both events, is 50% by invitation and 50% lottery.) He wants more "engagement" and is looking for ways to pull in more young people, not car people, through the gate. Neilson said most visitors are participants or their friends, and that hurts the gate. When asked how he wants to draw in more young an non-car people, Neilson said he has no idea.
As for the $50. non-refundable fee, Neilson said that when they initiated the a $25 fee, participant attendance fell, but then rose. Neilson anticipates the same thing will happen with the new fee. He said that if people were really "hung up" on the new fee, maybe something can be worked out.
Now, on to what I know apart from the above meeting. It is my understanding, that very few, if any, past or new participants from Ohio will be going to either MM or OCF.
LTD, as mentioned, will not be going and is creating it's own event.
There are some folks who are talking to Gilmore about creating a sort of OCF at that location and Gilmore, apparently is VERY interested. It won't be this year, but, perhaps next year.
Letters have been or will be sent from various clubs, both single and multi-make clubs, to Neilson and others at THF regarding the changes.
I attended an old car meeting the other night where and lot of members had previously attended the OCF and it was asked, who will be going to the OCF this year. Two people raised their hands.
It appears there is a general "boycott" of the events.
This is something I sincerely hoped would not happen. I really wanted a meeting of the minds between participants and THF regarding both events so as to keep the events basically unchanged.
This may sound over-dramatic, but the entire situation makes my heart bleed. Those of you who have been going to both or one of the events, will understand this.
I have offered my services to those trying to "replace" OCF with Gilmore to organize and, although I retired from narrating, and as a narrator, should they do a Pass-in-Review.
Sorry for being long-winded, but I thought you should know.
Thank you Marty
Last year was my 1st OCF. Sadly it may be the last real OCF. I have been following the posts to see if there was a chance it could be worked out. I went with a friend last year and drove one of his cars. He had 3 dodges there. If he goes this year he will only take one. His family has gone for several years. They even do a family photo for the year in period dress with their car. Thanks again for the update and all you have done.
Drive safe and often
Marty.... You have a long history with the OCF and I can understand how hard this is for you but at this point I think the only hope of ever having a OCF like it was, is if one (or both) of two things happen. Either a complete and devastating boycott of both events occur, and/or the people currently in charge of these events are removed, or leave, and someone that appreciates this museum and its heritage takes their place. Either way it is going to be painful now due to the actions of the people in charge.
Marty, Thanks for the update and sorry to hear that THF will not be accommodating the OCF or MM. I really enjoyed last year's event but will not be applying to the OCF this year and I will not be renewing my annual Henry Ford membership.
Since they don't want to have a car show, a boycott will make them very happy.
Gilbert.... Unfortunately, you are probably correct.
It sounds like the new management team doesn't see THF as a museum at all, and the they even consider the name "Henry Ford" as a detraction. I would say the OCF is over, as it has been known. Something may replace it, or maybe just a wedding. The "fact" that it doesn't make money for THF shows how much they don't understand marketing. The OCF brings people onto the grounds; they tell their friends what a great place it is, and they come back later when things are quieter to see the stuff they didn't get to see. Yes, a few wedding guests might come back to see the place, but not in the numbers in one weekend that the OCF brings in.
Yes, Gilbert, boycotting it will make the managers very happy, but I don't see anything else to do but to find/create an alternative event that encompasses much of the things the OCF did. Don't know where you'll find such period correct places to drive around without outside traffic.
I think we should also mourn the end of THF as we've known it too--it won't be long before they change it too--to be more "Modern and Relevant;" wonder what the new mission statement will be???
A Big Thank You to you Marty for all that you have done, and for taking the time to fill us in on what you have found out about the OCF. I have not brought my car down yet, probably never will, but have attended for many years, and always enjoyed it all, and learned a lot each year. Several folks from the forum here answered questions, took us for rides, enjoyed the day with us. Sad to see a change in this direction, several of us traveled a lot of miles to be a part of the festival, with or without our vehicles. I have never been to the Gilmore yet, but it is on the list. Thanks Marty, Jim Derocher, AuGres
Marty, Thank you for the update, and all you have done for the hobby for so many years. Although that due to distance and my financial realities, I have never been to the OCF, I have been really hoping to get there a few times in the years I would hope to have left. So, I have been following these developments right along.
Unfortunately, I have seen similar problems in the hobby for years in other spectacular events. And, I fear this is also a reflection of the bad directions our society and country have been headed for a few decades now. Too many people that want to be in charge, are too self-centered to understand what makes anything special. They cannot put a solid foundation under anything, including themselves. Their actions tend to destroy what is best in this world in favor of a very short term and selfish vision.
Educational establishments (including museums) SHOULD promote activities that encourage the public to become interested. What they are doing abdicates their very purpose, and the very purpose for which Henry Ford himself FOUNDED "the Henry Ford" collection and museum.
Our hobby can, and I think should, replace the OCF with a similar event if it wants to. The Gilmore may be a good choice? I don't know. I have never been there. I have seen numerous photos of several of the museums and facilities in the area, and maybe it could work. I know that there are hundreds of historic towns all around this nation that would love to have an annual event that would put tens of thousands of visitor dollars in their pockets. Towns near centers where hotels can be had. Towns surrounded by ranches and farms that could park hundreds of trailers for a few days.
I would think it could be done.
Again, thank you Marty B!
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
This subject pains me, and I have never attended. It just sounds like the closest
thing a person could ever experience to going back in time, and now a handful of
douchebags have weaseled their way into a position to destroy a real treasure.
Reminds me of ISIS destroying Palmyra just because they could as a show of power.
A group of you Poobahs of the car club world have taken the high road and worked
up and sent letters, had meetings, and it appears the initial impressions of these
people was spot on. They want to destroy what most of us cherish and seem to
be taking great delight in making it as painful as possible for people they see as
an enemy of THEIR objectives.
As removed as I am from any real involvement in this, I feel for you guys who are
actually seeing a treasured experience trashed. My mind goes to training we had
in both law enforcement and the military, .... that you do not try to wish something
into being something that it isn't. Size up the situation, accept what you see, and
lean into it as the reality you face.
I am sorry this went down the way it did, and I do not mean to make light of the
loss in any way, but lingering on a lost hope that this can somehow be wished away
just keeps the wound stinging.
I really hope a new venue can be found and these assclowns at THF are forced to
eat their own shit sandwich, get run out of town, and perhaps some sanity can return
to THF and the OCF. I would not hold my breath, but I do wish a little pain could be
sent their way.
Hi Marty, Thanks for the update. You've confirmed the worst of what we suspected. They make more money on weddings and don't care for the hassle of the OCF and MM.
This makes me wonder, do they need the revenue from weddings that bad? Why don't they just level with us and ask for our understanding? We all know that wedding receptions can be held at many other places.
The bottom line seems to be that they just don't care about these two historical events that can't be easily duplicated any where else just so they can bring in more money from weddings. This reminds me of the worst kind of company executives whose earnings are based on profits and will do almost anything just to increase profits.
This is a museum after all, not a profit making company.
What would Henry Ford think of this? He'd probably roll over in his grave.
This is really sad, and the worst part of it is that it doesn't have to be this way.
Marty, Thanks again for the update.
So they win. It's about the bucks and the heck with you. Honestly, I figured something like this was going on. Over taxed facilities or $. Can't actually blame them for trying to keep it going though. The facility that is. Your once or twice a year flooding in apparently isn't going to help carrying them through so it's you or them and it's going to be you. A boycott won't help you by the way as it plays right into their hands. So does volunteering to take over jobs they used to do. It's over gents.
And removing "Henry Ford" from the name?
I would entirely agree - the anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi, union busting, mysognistic, spotted owl-killing, global warming-causing, running dog capitalistic, alt-right, anti-LGBT, pro-slavery, anti-immigration, pro-nuclear, anti-EPA, machine gun toting, pro-pipeline, corporatistic, Satan worshipping, hippie-loving, millennial-hating, man who took credit for Clara's invention!
Have never attended the OCF. Have been to the Gilmore Museum. Would be a great venue for an old car get together. The place is amazing. Good luck on making this happen. I'd attend the "new" event in a heartbeat.
If there is a new event, we should see if we can keep the name "Old Car Festival" since the current regime seems uninterested and undeserving of such.
This is sad to hear. Thanks Marty and all who tried to work with them.
I guess "Weddings put the World on Wheels"
I know my wedding has kept me movin, jumpin and spinnin......
I have participated for several years and in fact enjoy his weekend more than any other of the year. I'm not sure a total boycott is the way to go either. Personally, I plan on registering, leaving the decision ultimately to me. I am still open to attending this year just to see if by showing support to them, they may be open to discussing our view as well.
I have had several weeks to think about his and to me this seems like a logical route for me. This may not bode well with some. I understand their feelings as well.
My decision will be made a little later in the year.
Please accept this post as my opinion and in no way a tool to persuade you one way or the other.
Brent, Don't forget to take a wedding gift!
Although I appreciate all the "thank you's", there really is no need. In some way, whether you've been to MM or OCF at all, this affects all of us. We're kinda in this together and I just wanted to keep you informed.
As I said at the beginning of this thread, I don't want to beat a dead horse, meaning -- as some of you suggested -- we gotta move on. That's one reason why I offered my services as an organizer (and/or narrator -- if it takes that form) to an OCF replacement.
Rick, if you are not renewing your membership because of these changes, you should let THF know.
Dave, good thought. I don't think the name is registered any where. Maybe someone should copyright it or something.
I had another thought (dangerous, I know!) but for those of you familiar with the old-time village at Huckleberry Railroad in the Flint area might be a great spot. They even have a running steam train!
You had me at Steam. . .
Crossroads Village/Hucklberry Railroad is a great idea. It's a county park, and could be a possibility. Gilmore is also a good choice. I attended the Gilmore Classic last may, and camped on site. I didn't have time to see it all, but what I did see was very nice.
I've never been, but I sure would have loved to have gone. Going to The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village is something that we have been wanting to do, but I don't know if we would ever have done it during the OCF. However, after all this, the idea of even visiting there has soured.
Some say a boycott is not the way to go. Others say a boycott is exactly what the HF wants. It appears that is the case. To me, boycotting the whole damned place sounds like the thing to do, but I'm a vindictive SOB.
I wish I could say that the thought of 1000's of us turning up for the OCF for no purpose other than to jam the streets hasn't crossed my mind. Hey, it works for BLM.
What the sam hell are they thinking? Dropping the founders name from the name of the museum ? That is the sickest thing I ever heard.
Has that place just plain sold out or what? When I was there it was a wonderful place. Sounds like it won't be worth going back. I heard that Dearborn has went way down hill but I didn't know it was this bad.
For those not familiar with the pre W W II show in may, check this out http://www.gilmorecarmuseum.org/category/car-show-and-events/. Could be something to be built up into a grand event. Other places need to be scoped out and veted. Having done a large local car show, I've seen both sides. More on my opinion later if work allows.
Yes Mack Cole, that museum is on my bucket list. Rethinking it now!
A question for the top management and the Board of Directors at The Henry Ford Museum:
Is "The Henry Ford" a museum, and more specifically an "American History Museum" as intended by its creator, Mr. Henry Ford?
Or is it just a neat and convenient place to have weddings and/or wedding receptions to make money with little work and hassles by the staff?
The truthful answer to this is unfortunate, but it shows what is important to the top management and the Board of Directors at this once fine and respected place.
I have been looking forward to the day i could go back as things change to a point a visit every few years would be equally enjoyable as the first time. But it sounds as if it will no longer be a place of interest. And yes I know there is more to the world than cars. I can't go into what I want to say but there was about a half acre of firearms there along rows of cook stoves, and other things of the home you would never see anywhere else.
I think the message from the Henry Ford is the same as what a bartender says at closing time: "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here".
Move on, guys, move on.
What if we rent the place for a wedding the weekend we want to host our own OFC and invite everyone from all the old car forums to attend the wedding and tell them to bring their cars.
For anyone not familiar with Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad, here's the site. Take a look around the website, it's pretty close to Greenfield Village. Lots of cool buildings. Cool venue. In fact, Crossroads Village has been used in some movies where a period venue was needed. I know, because I was in a film shot there about the Scopes Monkey Trial. I'll find some pics I took during filming (not of me) and post them.
Interesting, I am in conversations with a toy train internet friend who drives Model Ts at THF, and he's not aware of any major changes in the OCF (which, BTW, he says is a big income-maker for THF) and if you go to their website, it looks like business as usual (https://www.thehenryford.org/current-events/calendar/old-car-festival)
Also, he says that the ghost of Henry Ford would haunt them if his name were dropped from the title.
He must live in a closet with a tight circle of friends as for the OCF there were about 1,000 letters sent out to participants and copies of the letters have been posted on this and other forums!
I got notice that registration for the Gilmore Showcase is now open. Here is the link to the flyer. http://www.gilmorecarmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Gilmore-Showcase-2017 .pdf
Tour on Friday and show on Saturday for $10
Thanks for your comments on 3/11. They are appreciated.