Local News

Heavy Turnout Again for Sunflower Fair

(La Porte, IN) - Close to 10,000 or more people attended the 24th annual Sunflower Fair in downtown La Porte.


Whatever the number, there’s no denying that a several-block section of Michigan Avenue closed to host much of the one-day fair on Saturday, which was packed with people enjoying what seemed like perfect late-summer weather.


La Porte Events Coordinator Brett Binversie said there were more than 140 artisan vendors and about 20 food vendors to go, in addition to the over-130 antique vehicles on display along the streets during the fair, which ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Other attractions included live music, along with carnival-type rides and games for young children.


Binversie said attendance may have set a Sunflower Fair record, but there was no way to know since people were allowed to stroll in from each direction at no cost are not counted.


“I see new people coming in every hour.  It’s a nice steady crowd,” he said.


A 1957 Volkswagen Beetle owned by Matthew Tulacz of La Porte was among the vehicles in the antique car show. Tulacz said he came across the once-baby blue colored vehicle stored in a barn in 1992 and purchased it for $1,000.


With help from his brother-in-law, Mike, restoration of the car began about 10-years later.


Tulacz said the now-indigo metallic blue car draws a lot of attention primarily because of its new, striking color.


“It still gets a lot of looks even here with all of the big muscle cars.  It gets a lot of looks,” he said.


Also turning heads was a 1927 Studebaker pick-up truck owned by Bob Paul of Hudson Lake. Paul said he obtained the truck after it burned up in a garage fire many years ago.


He put a new backend on the vehicle as part of its restoration.


Paul said he never repainted the truck, preferring the rustic look the metal body took on from exposure to the flames.


“It’s kind of a neat thing. It’s a lot of fun.  A lot of people like it,” he said.


A smooth-riding 1988 Rolls Royce owned by Joe Novak of La Porte also captured the imaginations of many onlookers.


Novak said the paint, and everything else on the car he purchased a few years ago from an estate for about $30,000, is original. He said the luxury car, when brand new, was priced at $159,000.


“It’s all hand-assembled,” he said.


Novak said he uses the car to provide rides for people to graduation ceremonies and other special events, while dressed as a chauffeur to reflect the culture in England where that brand of car is made.


“When this became available, I figured I’d snatch it up because I wanted something nobody else has,” he said.


Food vendors seemed very busy.


For example, the La Porte Assembly of God was expecting to sell up to 500 Chicago Dogs as a church fundraiser, judging by the number of sales at their booth by noon.


“We started doing this last year and it went over really well so now it’s sort of become our thing,” said Heidi Grace, whose husband, Jeff, is the church pastor.

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