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Norwalk Festival features rare cars

September 26, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The brown, black and orange-trimmed 1930 Ford Model A on display this weekend at the first Norwalk Festival could end up in your driveway with the purchase of only one $5 raffle ticket.

"The Norwalk automobile is more important to the whole community, to Martinsburg ... than one little car is to two people," said Shelly McFillan, who, along with her husband, donated the vehicle for an Oct. 18 raffle drawing toward the end of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival. "There's more of those around. There are no more Norwalks. That is it."

The couple, from the Spring Mills, W.Va., area, are members of The Friends of the Norwalk Foundation Inc., a group formed in August 2008 to bring what is widely believed to be the only remaining Norwalk car in existence -- a 1914 Underslung Six manufactured in Martinsburg -- back to Martinsburg and find a permanent home for it.

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The group is paying off a $280,000 loan it obtained to purchase the car from a Colorado rancher last year. Since then, the foundation has paid about $60,000 toward the total cost and was awarded a $50,000 state grant, but the latter has yet to arrive from Charleston, W.Va.

"The tickets that have been sold (for the Model A) have more than exceeded our expectations," McFillan said. "We've really been amazed.

"We've had requests for tickets as far away as Hawaii. I hope somebody there wins it -- 'cause I'll deliver it," she said, laughing.

Rainy conditions appeared to dampen turnout for the first day of the festival, which continues today at the Berkeley County Youth Fair Grounds.

Tickets are $10, and the event includes pony rides, a truck and tractor pull, silent auction and raffle drawings in addition to dozens of arts and crafts vendors and antique vehicles, including a GM Futurliner.

The red and white buslike vehicle was one of 12 manufactured in 1939 by General Motors, which shuttled displays about "modern marvels" in science and technology across the nation as part of the "Parade of Progress." The first parade was launched in 1936 with different vehicles.

Emmett Toomey of Rio in Hampshire County, W.Va., wasn't bothered by the weather and urged organizers not to be discouraged because he expects interest in seeing the unique canary yellow convertible-style vehicle only will grow in time.

Toomey said his father, who had worked for the Fisher Body division of General Motors, talked about a lot of different cars in the late 1920s and 1930s when he was a teenager, but not the Norwalk.

"I think he said his first car, he paid like $27 for it," Toomey said. "But that was a lot of money back then."

Kenny Stotler of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., who was with Neva Thomas of Great Cacapon, W.Va., and Pat Crowl, of Hedgesville, W.Va., came to the festival to see The Fabulous Hubcaps, a well-known oldies music band.

"They're fantastic," Thomas said.

"They're our time," Crowl added.

Stotler said he didn't know anything about the Futurliners and the "Parade of Progress" until he came to the festival.

"I was impressed," Stotler said.

For more information about the Futurliner, go to www.futurliner.com. More information about the Norwalk Underslung Six is on The Friends of the Norwalk Foundation's Web site at www.norwalkmotorcar.com.

If you go



What: Norwalk Festival

When: Today, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Berkeley County Youth Fair Grounds, Martinsburg, W.Va.

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