If you’re a classic car enthusiast, you’ll want to gather up the family and head over to the Henderson Classic Car Roll-In in Henderson, Minnesota, before the end of the summer. Every Tuesday night from May through September, Henderson’s five-block Main Street is lined with hundreds of classic vehicles, and there’s a different variety to see every week.
Denny Graham, a realtor with Ross Realty, is vice president of the Historic Henderson Auto Society, which puts on the event. “This all started 15 years ago,” Graham notes. “A local couple who owned a classic car approached the chamber of commerce saying they wanted to highlight vintage autos in the community. In the beginning, they thought 25 cars was a good night. Now we see between 300 and 350 cars per night. Our biggest night featured over 600 cars.” It is considered one of the region’s largest and most popular classic car shows.
Graham adds that it’s not a show, but a showcase. “There’s no competition, or judging, or trophies,” he says. “Just a great opportunity to look at some great old cars while taking in the fun atmosphere.”
Visitors from around the world descend upon the small community of 960 residents to walk the streets while window-shopping and enjoying live music. “Of course, all of the businesses are open, and a popular stop is the corner ice cream shop,” says Graham. “You have to stop in for a cone.”
A variety of food choices are available from local vendors and restaurants, plus the Henderson Farmer’s Market is open at the Community Center’s park. “There’s a little something for everybody,” Graham notes.
Local businesses sponsor the event, and every half hour, Graham announces their names over the PA system. “We like to interview our featured sponsor, which is typically a local auto dealer,” Graham notes.
All visitors are invited to register with the Auto Society for chances to win prizes throughout the evening. “And if you’re a classic car owner and attend ten shows, you win that year’s specially designed T-shirt,” Graham says.
Each year, a different logo representing the event is created and placed on various swag items for prizes or purchase. This year, the event T-shirt sports the Chevy Corvette to celebrate the classic car’s 80th birthday.
What’s the secret of Henderson’s success?
So many reasons, says Graham, including the caliber of classic vehicles, the dedication of the volunteers to make the evenings memorable, and good old-fashioned community spirit.
Graham likes to think of the Roll-In as an educational experience. “I particularly like to see a grandparent pointing out something familiar to their grandchildren while looking at the cars. There’s so much delight,” he says.
One year, the Auto Society brought dozens of classic cars to a middle school to teach the students about the history of the automobile. Twenty cars were lined up in chronological order, everything from a Model-T all the way to a Tesla. “The kids went from car to car and had lots of questions. It was a huge success, and the kids loved it,” Graham says. “Even the instructors said they learned something.”
Whether you’re a classic car lover or not, Graham guarantees you’ll have a good time. “There’s so much to see and do!” he exclaims.