Published by the Waupaca County Post
When Larry Fechter joined the Iola Car Show team in early 2014, he had a number of things he hoped to help them achieve.
Among them was finding a way to get official DOT highway signs for the show.
What seemed like a relatively easy sell for an event with so much history and magnitude, turned out to be a lot more difficult than he could have imagined.
Entering its 44th year, the Iola Car Show is one of the top 10 car shows in the country. Boasting 2,500 show cars, 4,200 swap spaces, 1,000 car corral spaces and nearly 2,000 camping spaces, the non-profit event attracts over 120,000 guests the second weekend of July.
Fechter reached out to State Rep. Kevin Petersen, R-Waupaca, for assistance on the project. After approaching the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) directly, they learned it would require a bill, due to existing legislation that barred this sort of signage because Iola is located more than five miles from major state highways.
Rep. Petersen co-authored AB-509/SB-382 with Reps. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, and David Heaton, R-Wausau, as well as Sens. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon.
The bi-partisan bill changed state statute and requires the DOT to place Iola Car Show signage at several intersections in Waupaca, Portage and Marathon counties.
“Through the persistence of ICS staff and the statesmanship of both Kevin Petersen and Luther Olsen, I was able to complete a very important goal of mine,” said Fechter, ICS managing director.
Senate Bill 382 was signed into Wisconsin State Law by Gov. Scott Walker on March 1.
The green and white signs will be posted at the intersections of U.S. Highway 10 and State Highway 49 in Waupaca, State Highway 29 and State 49 in Marathon County, and at State 49 and State Highway 66 in Portage County. The signs will be maintained by the DOT.
According to Petersen, no state funds were expended for the signage. He said all signs, installation and maintenance will be paid for by the Iola Car Show.
“Auto enthusiasts’ ability to find the Iola Car Show not only bolsters the local and state economy with tourism dollars; the show’s profit goes directly to the areas’ service organizations,” Petersen said. “In return, the money is reinvested into making our communities special places to live.”
The 2016 Iola Car Show is set for July 7-9, featuring Trucks and Dodge Chargers.