CROWN POINT | When a few thousand car enthusiasts drop by for the afternoon, it requires a little more preparation than having a few extra bags of nachos.
The vanguard of the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour is due to arrive at the Lake County Fairgrounds early Wednesday, and Jessica Kirchner, media relations person for the tour's producer Family Events, said about 1,000 hot rods, street rods, custom trucks and street machines could be ready for public display by noon when the gates open to the public.
Also, all the more than 50 big rigs bearing displays for the tour's sponsors and vendors will be lined up. But that will be just the beginning because more than 4,500 participants could pack the fairgrounds by late afternoon along with the thousands of fans from the region.
Assistant Police Chief Jim Janda said, "I have a total of 39 man-hours put together on the light side of things for the car cruise. I have six extra guys dedicated to traffic.
"If we get really busy, I have another three to five to put in spots as needed that I can pull. If it's as big as they say it's going to be, traffic will be gridlocked."
The weather could be a factor, but Janda said the tour participants will show up no matter what the weather. They are on a seven-day jaunt from Charlotte, N.C., to the Wisconsin Dells, rain or shine, and have to be in Iowa on Thursday before heading up north for the final stop.
Kirchner said many of the 1,500 to 1,700 who are part of the entire seven-day event travel overnight to the next stop, while others travel in groups the next day.
The groups are expected to begin arriving at the fairgrounds around 1:30 or 2 p.m. along with the part-time participants and the locals interested in showing off their vehicles.
It costs $30 to enter a vehicle for the day, and the fee makes owners eligible for giveaways from sponsors and vendors.
"The guys I've talked to say this will be as big as one day of the Lake County Fair," Janda said. "These people are very dedicated in what they do, and it's like the World Series of car shows."
Janda said there was talk of having remote parking with a shuttle to the fairgrounds, but Kirchner said it now appears they will have enough room to park everyone inside the fairgrounds.
The show hours are from noon to 7 p.m., and admission is free for spectators. Vic and Christi Edelbrock, of Edelbrock Carburetors, will be signing autographs from noon to 6 p.m. along with Miss Hot Rod Lindsay Dennis.
This could be a once-in-a-lifetime stop for the tour, Kirchner said.
"We don't visit the same city twice very often. We make it around the country. Next year we will start in Wisconsin Dells and go from there."
Where the tour will go is still a secret, she said.