I know that this is long but I promised a report and here it is. I have condensed a nearly two hour meeting. I thought you should know.
Let me preface this by saying that the management at THF is to be highly commended for admitting it made a mistake and taking such fast action to correct it by taking the initiative and opening communications.
Most of the time at the meeting was taken up by management listening to suggestions to bring OCF and MM back to what it was.
In attendance from THF were Pat Moridian, Christian Overland, John Neilson, Matt Anderson and, Jim Johnson. There may have been others there, but I was not made aware of them.
They made it very clear that they are committed to continuing communications “internally and externally.” They want to have regular meetings with us, the next big one sometime after Hershey.
They already have initiated forming internal committees to look at the problems and take the meeting suggestions into consideration. President Moridian said “we are working on the problems internally to improve participant relationships.”
Management is throwing a lot of time, effort and, money behind the events.
Meeting participants made it very clear the uniqueness of the events and stressed that is the free driving, Gaslight Parade and, Greenfield Village location that make it distinct from other static events. Management also learned from meeting participants that the events are also very much family affairs and social events.
When asked if free driving and the Gaslight Parade will continue, in my opinion, the management answer was rather evasive, but I believe both will continue. Understandably, the evasiveness was due in part to safety concerns ie: there are so many cars driving around and so many people walking around that safety does become a concern. THF has a new security company in place and they are working to make both events safer. It was said by management that the number of participants is a concern but they want to solve the problems with participants.
Registration can be a problem due to the numbers of participants. This year, registration has been extended for OCF and is free this year only. They will continue to use CVent because it is a labor saver and helps with organization. CVent did not displace any internal THF personnel.
They would like to have up to 700 vehicles as that appears to be the maximum the Village can safely and economically handle. Because of that, there was discussion of limiting cars, including Model Ts and As. (Frankly, I suggested that that would be a mistake. If THF is an educational institution, than having a representative number of Ts and As shows the visitors what it was like when the cars were on the road and the importance of the Ford Motor Company. I was told by one management member that limiting Ts and As could be a mistake.)
They would like to have more early cars because very few cars prior to, say, 1905 attend. Towards that end, they would like to find and invite owners and their cars of that vintage. The Lansing to Dearborn run generally brings a lot of early cars to OCF but this year, the L to D folks were not going to OCF. When asked if they would come back this year, John Grace said “it depends on the outcome of this meeting.”
Parking for campers, trailers and, participants was, of course, a big topic of discussion.
Management recognizes the scope of the issues and said they are working on solving those issues internally and want to do it with discussions with participants. The safety problem of early cars driving back to a distant location after the Gaslight Parade was brought up. A suggestion was that the cars be parked in a protected area overnight Saturday and owners shuttled to their campers, hotels, etc. (I suggested that the early cars and their trailers be given priority to park very near or on THF property.)
Other topics included:
- Getting more youth involved
- Whether or not to rope off the vehicles
- Making a bigger deal out of presenting the awards
- Speeding up notification of acceptance to the events.
I also learned from a management member that they are looking at having a World War I display complete with an old biplane, bringing back parts of the defunct Rag Time Festival and incorporating them into OCF and, other attractions.
President Moridian concluded the meeting by thanking all for their time, concern and, suggestions. She said:
- We’re listening
- Focusing on logistics
- Focusing on communications
- Focusing on relationships
- Committing the organization and personnel
- 600 to 700 cars is the goal.
And, she said, they are looking at having a Friday night “mixer” for participants!!!
In short (I know, too late, right) the meeting, I feel, was very productive and positive with a lot of hope for the future of these two unique and beloved events.
Wow looks like they really listened. Thank you for the update Marty. I think we will give them a second chance.
I must respectfully disagree with your assessment that THF should be commended for acting quickly and taking the initiative to correct their mistakes.
Several interested past participants sent letters to various individuals associated with THF, including Ms. Moridian and Mr. Neilson, as early as last January. To the best of my knowledge THF largely ignored those letters. Or, if they didn't outright ignore them they didn't bother to respond. Six months passed and to the best of my knowledge no one received a reply from THF until AFTER the Motor Muster flopped.
Several months ago an individual that we both know met with John Neilson to discuss the changes at the OCF. In so many words John Neilson advised our mutual acquaintance that car shows were not worth the hassle to THF and that they could make more money with less effort hosting weddings. The take away was...the OCF changes are here to stay and you can take it or leave it. John Neilson committed to following up on a few matters and reconnecting with our acquaintance. To the best of my knowledge John Neilson never did so.
I happened to be in Detroit on Father's Day and I attended the Motor Muster. I noted that many individuals that otherwise would have participated in the event voted with their feet and skipped the event.
I find it interesting that THF rather casually discarded its long running relationship with the Lansing to Dearborn Run, much like one wold toss out the day's trash, and now they are focused on having those cars return to the OCF.
For the most part, the circle of early car owners with whom I interact are still stinging from the poor treatment dished out by THF with their take it or leave it attitude. My guess is that many of them will skip the event. And, it will be a while before they return to the OCF, if ever.
For me, the changes that the THF implemented were not nearly as troublesome as the arrogant, condescending attitude and manner in which the changes were communicated and implemented.
I for one understand that THF despite its size is a group of people. People can make mistakes. I will always choose forgiveness. Otherwise people may start throwing stones at me.
I'm interested to hear THF or anyone's suggestions on how to get younger folks involved. In the time I started working at a university 2005 till now. I have gone from 1 out of 10 students not having a license to now its more like half. Cars for a lot of younger folks are considered a burden. Or they want something they can just write a check and get fixed. I don't think this hobby will be recognizable in the next 10-15 years.
Thank you Marty for your thorough report of the meeting. Your report gives us hope that the OCF and MM will return and continue to be the great events we remember. That said, I respect what Tim said, especially that it took THF a long time to respond, and then it only came after the MM flopped.
None the less, we look forward to the future and hope for the best.
Thank you Marty B !
There is yet, hope.
Tim, I understand what you are saying. BUT, please understand that the change in attitude and desire to communicate and make changes came AFTER the Motor Muster.
I agree that there was a certain amount of arrogance and callousness when all this started. I do not know this as fact, but I believe certain people got their wrist slapped, so to speak, following the dismal Motor Muster.
That being said, their change of heart is to be commended.
I agree with Timothy.
Enough time has passed
Management has known - or should have known - the specific issues of concern that past participants have brought directly and indirectly to their attention.
Last night there should have been specific plans addressing parking for motorhomes - trucks - trailers at the very least.
The cheapest short term solution is to refund application fees paid & hope that will appease participants.
I will say it again ..... and again.
The participants hold the power - without volunteers footing the bill and bringing their cars - there is no OCF unless the collection at THF is brought out of mothballs.
Past participants told Management what was needed.
Management had plenty of time to make concrete changes prior to the meeting.
Freighter Jim, I must respectfully disagree with you.
They know of the specific issues and are attempting to fix them WITH PARTICIPANTS HELP. That, in and of itself, speaks volumes.
I do not believe management realized the magnitude of the damage that was done by the changes until the Motor Muster. I think they thought everything would be okay.
Reality hit after MM. Until then, I think, they thought the complaints and concerns were not warranted or justified.
They have already taken major strides in refunds, extension of registration and, wanting to bring the events back to 600 or 700 vehicles. NOT TO MENTION THEY TOOK THE INITIATIVE TO OPEN COMMUNICATIONS!!!!
Major issues, such as parking are and will continue to be addressed and solved. Parking has been an issue for years. It is not solved overnight AND they want our help and cooperation.
If we love the events as much as we say and want to get them back on track the very least we can do is work with and help them help us.
Maybe I'm too much of a glass half full guy, but I truly believe they are making sincere efforts. We need to forget the past. What happened, happened. Let's move on.
I'm not sure i understand how well the shuttle would work? You leave your ocf car/truck at the Henry Ford after the Gaslight and take the shuttle to your hotel so where do you park your haul rig when you go back Sunday?? If you stay Friday and Sat night will the hotel let you park your rig on Sunday till your ready to leave the OCF?? In OCF terms my 14 is modern but at 103 years old it dose not set out in the weather day or night!! Parking last year was a pain in the butt,but after almost a year [We are working on it]?? I am glad the refundable deposit has been restored! Bud.
I have never been to either event, so I don't have a dog in this fight. But I do hope to attend the OCF, so I do have some opinions.
I fully understand the lingering bad taste left by the arrogant, in-your-face chutzpah demonstrated at the outset of this fiasco, especially the insulting non-returnable registration fee. Apparently the disastrous Motor Muster was the two-by-four across the snout that got the mule's attention. It would have been nice if all the THF folks had been reasonable sooner, but the question is what to do with the mule now that we have his attention. Do we put him out to pasture, or do we hitch him up to the wagon and take a ride? I say ride. Now that officials seem willing to cooperate in making the OCF an event we all want to attend, my inclination is to forgive even if I don't forget.
As for specific suggestions, two things come to mind. I can understand the impulse to limit the number of Model T's and Model A's to make space for other makes and models. I also agree that if representing the real world of the Model T and Model A era is one of the goals, they should predominate just as they did a hundred years ago. Perhaps a limit of 60% or so would be reasonable. I would sure like to see a Dort, a Stanley, or a Cole driving around, even if they're few in number.
No ropes. Maybe some Don't touch without permission signs, but no ropes.
That's my 2¢.
1st of all thank you Marty for keeping us all informed. I got my 1st T about 1 1/2 years ago. I went to the OCF last year as a driver of my buddy's 26 dodge 4 door. A friend went with me and we shared driving the dodge. It was by far the best event I had been a part of. Sitting in traffic with the old dodge and the window was fogging up from the stanley in front. Seeing,hearing and smelling these old open fender oil dripping machines make their way around the village was wonderfull. I was hooked! I decided to keep my T's as origial factory equipped as possible so I could enter my T one day. I was very disapointed when this all started. I have been watching and listening. I was not going to go this year because I figured it would not be worth it if it were a shell of an OCF. I am sure the logistics of an event like that is tremendous. The RV and trailer thing is a sticking point but hope its resolved soon. I agree with Steve. They have felt the sting and heard the voices. I am fortunate that I am only a couple hours away. The promotion of the old car hobby may be at stake at events like this. Many of you take the entire family as my buddy does. They bring a friend and so on. We gave rides in the dodge to anyone that wanted one. Young and old alike. I am going to hitch up the mule. I figure if they turn down my rusty roadster this year Im not out a dime. If they say Im in then it will be a great time.
We wont forget the past but they wont either!
I ditto Dallas, however I only waked (limped, actually with bad back and knee), as I didn't even attempt to register my car. I do plan on at least attempting this year, however, and will lend my support, regardless, by attending.
We can set and whine, take our toys elsewhere, or attempt to help the OCF folks make the event as good as possible for everyone.
We have been trying to help the OCF by attending for 19 years and 18 of them taking a car and dressing for the times!When we saw problems last year we spoke up and most fell on a deft ear! With the many years of effort do we need to listen to[we can set and whine]?? Bud DeLong.
I tend to be direct.
Current management at THF is operating to maximize profits.
Where you and others see the history and heritage of honoring early automobiles, current management only sees an opportunity to increase profits and decrease expenses.
Their only consideration is financial.
That is why now - you have their attention.
The volunteers management needs are in jeopardy of not attending the OCF - that would impact revenue.
Many attempts were made over a protracted period of time by old car transport enthusiasts which were largely ignored.
This resulted in no progress in addressing concerns with the OCF.
When the MM proved not to be the revenue generator that was anticipated - current management took notice.
The only action taken since then is to refund money is for application fees - this is the cheapest way to increase attendance at the OCF.
Sufficient time has passed for policies to be reevaluated - reexamined - corrected by current management.
The Motor Muster and Old Car Festival were great ......
Operative word here is " were " ........
My application is in. Glad to hear they have listened.
I certainly commend you for your dedication. However, I fully believe the only reason THF has changed its mind is BECAUSE of the people with "negative attitudes" that stayed home. Without them, this meeting would never have taken place. I cant see how THF can be called sincere, when the only reason they came around was because the OCF flopped. I just dont see them being sorry for anything but the failure of their event. I dont belive theyve had a change of heart, only a change of tactic.
Are they motivated by true contrition, or by the bottom line? Who cares? Good deeds are good deeds, whatever the motive. Be gracious and take advantage of opportunity,
Without the participants, there is no OCF.
Without The Henry Ford, there is no OCF.
Don't forget how much we, the participants, enjoy OCF. Holding a grudge hurts us.
Prior to MM, they may have thought the complaints were from a vocal minority.
After MM, they realized they offended a majority. They want to fix it. We want them to fix it. Let's work together to continue to have an event we all enjoy.
I could care less about the bottom line for them making money. I enjoyed the people and the cars. The few hundred I spend to eat and sleep compared to a trip to disney is not even close.
The question is do we give up on something we love to do or just turn away and say so long. I know the RV parking is still a huge issue. Everone says the interest in the hobby is in decline. The OCF dieing a slow death wont help. Which event is next? There has to be a way to make it work. I understand change is hard and there were changes made over the years and the show went on. Bottom line is you can make all the people happy some of the time and some happy all the time but not both.
With less than two months to go .....
Prospective Participants should visit The Henry Ford Site
and view the requirements for participants .....
No motorhomes or campers are allowed ...
But there may be weddings taking place that weekend .....
Whatever the reason for their change of heart they seem fully committed to making things right. Living and working in the Dearborn area I can see their dilemma with parking. Nearly every Ford lot is torn up due to a massive construction project. As Marty said, they are working on trying to resolve this, but it may require a shuttle. It was stated that they are looking to accommodate motorhomes and I've made them aware that they may want to update the site.
Since I have been going to OCF (2005) I have stayed at the same hotel in Romulus next to the airport. We like the hotel where we stay and don't want to change. I have an SUV and flatbed trailer. I leave our old car in the village Saturday overnight thru Sunday. We drive our SUV with trailer back to our hotel in Romulus Saturday night and come back Sunday morning. Is there parking which to leave our SUV with trailer during the day/evening as we have done in the past? I don't see a shuttle being offered to drive us back to our hotel in Romulus......
I suspect bringing our car will be more trouble than it's worth? Don't get me wrong, we love the OCF and will likely attend as spectators from now on. We always brought something different to the table and were always accepted. I can't travel all that distance hoping to find a place to park somewhere once we get there within walking distance!
Glad they are trying to make amends but, as others have said; I can forgive but, not forget.
Just my view on things,
I have been extremely busy with work and with prepping my T for a weeklong tour, so I have not had time to comment on this, or to even read Marty's posting above. I will say however, that the meeting was very positive and very respectful. Though not stated outright, I believe that the author of this mess has been largely taken off the project and that the previous manager of OCF has stepped back in to put things right. Patricia Mooradian, President, (or some such title), of THF promised that the trailer/camper situation will be rectified and that they are working hard at doing that. It was also noted the Lansing-to-Dearborn tour participants will be taken care of and are welcome to participate in OCF. All THF representatives at the meeting, (maybe 6 or more), expressed their sincere regrets for the current state of affairs.
In short, it sounds like OCF will be largely unchanged from what we previously experienced, except for fewer cars, (approx. 700, if registrations get that high!). Parking will change, yet details on that are still in the works.
Yes, they made some grave errors and they know it. To those who are unmoved in their current opposition to the event, I ask you, what exactly will it take to sway you from your negative stance? Honestly, they want to know the answer to that question and have invited us to contact them directly with those suggestions. Personally, no matter what got us here, I can think of nothing more that they can do to rectify it. If any of you have any reasonable advice, let either Marty or myself know and it will be communicated to them.
I'm, not sure how the shuttle thing would work either. It was a suggestion at the meeting.
Of course they want to make money. Isn't that why you are in business, too? Whether for-profit or non-profit, money has to be made to sustain the enterprise. Does it matter how THF makes it? They realize, now, that without us, they wouldn't have a money-making event. So what? I believe they are bending over backwards to restore the MM and OCF and relationships with participants.
THF does "see the history and heritage of honoring early automobiles" otherwise, they could just as easily have cancelled both events as they have with others. For profit? So what!
As for the requirements you mention that are still on the website, they have not yet had a chance to change that.
I must respectfully disagree.
Steve, Peter and, Joe,
I agree and thanks.
I have long felt the OCF was the best thing since sliced bread! As the 50.00 non refundable has been resolved it was never about the 50.00,it was about the non refundable! I realize with construction parking of any kind was/is a problem but last year it was a circle jerk,and several had one hell of a lot of trouble when the no brains car drivers parked anywhere they wanted and too hell with us!! Old and cranky it hurts beyond knowing to miss a OCF but myself i would need to know up front about rig parking before hand!! This close to the event we are working on it is a fart in the wind!! Tell us what you are going to do!! Will the passes still get us into the event and also the museume in case of rain?? The OCF for us is not a 10 mile drive and very expensive so before we ever commit again,the facts need to be out!! This is just what i think and if some snot nose say it's a whine you know what to do!!!!!!!! I hope whoever tried to ruin the best event of the year is still working at this years OCF,picking up papers!!!! Be Happy!! Bud DeLong.
I will pass along the need for parking details as soon as they're available and that this is a go/no-go think for most folks. THANKS! Yes, be happy!
Thing, not "think". Ugh!!!
I am glad that THF is now seeing the err in their decisions, and yes I feel we as old car buffs can work with them to better the hobby and help steer their event, and the future, for antique car events. I understand that they focus on the bottom line- in keeping with Henry's tradition, the bottom line is everything to businesses and THF is a business. So I am very pleased in their position change and I look forward to hearing about the event this year. I won't make it, but I am happy other's will continue to enjoy the event and forge ahead for the hobby.
Well said. Thank you sir.
Latest reversals proposed will go a long way to clear the air, but don't bet on that happening this year or next. Best that THF continue to work transparently and sincerely to repair the exhibitor relationship. Positive feedback from this effort will restore support in time.
You're correct. It will help some this year, but the proof will be in the pudding, as they say, (for some reason...). The Henry Ford folks admitted as much and asked our patience as they correct and improve things.
Scott & Jerry - You guys are right. No matter how much THF apologizes and how great of a job they do at improving the parking and everything else necessary, some damage has been done as far as past participants (and those like me that have had the OCF on their "bucket list") and it will take some time before things get back to "normal".
Most members of my department, before I retired, had a sort of rude & crude "saying" that sort of applies here:
"It takes about ten "attaboys" to wipe out just one "awwwshit"!
Anyone bother to ask Management at THF how many weddings are scheduled for the same time period as the OCF this year ?
Was there not a parking problem last year - before construction plans affecting parking this year - due to at least one wedding being held at the same time as the OCF ?
Anyone remember parking problems attributed to wedding(s) prior to last year ?
For participants living in relative close proximity to THF - having to plan ahead to bring your camper or motor home or trailer to the OCF is perhaps not as much a concern as to folks coming from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
My guess is - since current management at THF has already indicated weddings are more profitable than car events - there is at least one wedding scheduled to coincide with the OCF.
Hence why there is notice given to OCF prospective participants on THF website.
So - if you are less than (2) months from possibly attending & bringing a car - planning on bringing a camper or motor home - live hundreds or thousands of miles away - this is a reasonable and valid concern that should have been addressed at the latest meeting by THF Management in a firm decision .......
I have some answers about parking for trailers, motor homes, campers, etc.
I'm not trying to be coy, but I'm kinda riding both sides of the fence here so, bare with me. I'm not at liberty to give details.
I just spoke with a THF official. I told this person of your concerns regarding making plans to attend. They recognize the concerns and have made parking a top priority. In fact, this person said that they want to make sure participants with the above vehicles are "comfortable" -- their words, not mine.
I'm told that there have been some VERY high level meetings with THF management and outside officials regarding parking solutions. Their goal is to have those solutions in place by next week. Once they are set, information will be disseminated just like the info about the new registration information and the wrist bands.
I think you will like the solutions THF is working towards.
I'd rather bear with you... thanks though.
Jerk (He said lovingly)
Marty, thanks for all your work and information! I have two model T's but have never had either at the festival because I also have antique bicycles and have been bringing them since the mid ninties. When we started, the cars and their parking was at the Visteon lot, and shuttle buses ran back and forth, but we bike folks were parked at Eagle Tavern lot except when they had the weddings. Visteon has been sold, so that parking is gone.
Unfortunately, in this day of sharp penciled bean counters, money is always the bottom line. Very few museums make money in the long run, but need to lose as little as possible! There are two ways of doing this, either lower expenses, or increase fees. By lowering the number of entries, and raising fees, they were trying to do both. My friend who works in the village writes that the MM was a disaster, and customers were asking for refunds, since there were no cars there! She also said that management of the event has been changed. She also agreed that they had plenty of time to have responded to comments and complaints but had been stonewalling! They got a really rude awakening at the muster! The change of attitude is the result, and I think the lesson has been mostly learned. Refresher courses may be needed on BOTH sides, but that has always been true! Both sides need each other about the same amount, and some give and take from both is necessary. Time to play "let's make a deal"!