What a gas: Celebrating Norwalk

September 24, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - After a 1,700-mile trip home to Martinsburg a year ago, the only known Norwalk car will be center stage this weekend at a festival in its honor.

The first Norwalk Festival will give local residents a chance to check out a piece of local history. The 1914 Norwalk Underslung Six was manufactured in Martinsburg.

The festival at the Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds is a fundraiser to help pay for the car, which cost $300,000.

A group of private citizens, The Friends of the Norwalk Foundation, collected $20,000 in donations for a down payment and took out a $280,000 loan for the remainder, said Chris Breeze, the foundation's vice president.

So far the group has paid about $60,000 toward the total cost and is expecting a $50,000 state grant, Breeze said. Proceeds from the festival will help pay down the loan.


Adult tickets for the festival range from $10 on Sunday to $20 to $25 on Saturday, depending on whether you pay in advance or at the gate.

Festival entertainment includes two shows Saturday by the Fabulous Hubcaps, who perform rock 'n' roll oldies from the 1950s through 1970s. The shows are at 1 and 3 p.m.

Sunday's highlight is a 2 p.m. truck and tractor pull, which includes two classes of tractors and two classes of trucks pulling for points in the annual Interstate Truck & Tractor Pullers' points competition.

The event also will feature a car, truck and motorcycle show in which drivers just pay the admission fee, no registration fee. Drivers for the first 100 vehicles registered each day will receive a gift bag and a dash plaque, Breeze said.

The festival also will have about 100 craft and antique vendors, pony rides, a Moonbounce, face painting, magic by Michael T, food, a silent auction and raffles.

In addition to the Norwalk, the other automotive stars of the festival will be a prototype Lamborghini and a GM Futurliner, a 1940s, bus-sized, promotion vehicle restored to its original finish, Breeze said. Futurliners toured the nation in the 1940s and the mid-1950s to promote GM vehicles. The size of a bus, the Futurliner's sides open to reveal displays about GM science and technology.

But the real star is the Norwalk. While drivable, the 95-year-old car will be on static display.

"It smokes a lot when you first get it started," Breeze said. The Norwalk doesn't have a lot of horsepower, but, thanks to torque, still has a lot of power or "umph" as Breeze called it.

If you go ...

WHAT: Norwalk Festival

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27

WHERE: Berkeley County (W.Va.) Youth Fairgrounds

COST: Saturday tickets are $25 at the gate; $20 in advance; for each adult ticket 2 youths ages 16 or younger can get in free. Sunday tickets are $10; free for ages 12 and younger. Advance tickets are available at the Martinsburg Mall customer service desk by the food court.

CONTACT: Call Chris Breeze at 304-267-3140.

To learn more about the Norwalk and the company's history, go to 1914 Underslung Six returns home to Martinsburg or Norwalk group gets grant, support

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