BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. – When some businesses open they do so with a small ceremony and maybe some snacks.
That’s not quite how Decades of Wheels in Baxter Springs is going about it.
No, they plan on opening with a full three day rocking concert with internationally known bands. One of which, Steppenwolf, will play their last show ever. It’s a huge event for a town so small, and a huge museum.
The Decades of Wheels complex, located at 1143 Military Avenue, takes up a full block downtown. When it’s completed at the end of 2018, it will house a car museum, bed and breakfast, restaurant, bistro/dessert bar, and family funhouse. The party this weekend celebrates the opening of the museum and restaurant and will be followed by another bash when the rest of the complex opens.
The museum boasts over 300 different cars and motorcycles which will be kept on a rotating display. Many of which are rare with a selection that spans the history of the automobile.
“We have something from every era, from the model T to the Batmobile,” said marketing director David Hickmott.
Hickmott stressed that the history of not only the cars but of Route 66, is important to their museum. In fact, it was the location on historic Route 66 that played a factor in choosing Baxter Springs for the museum.
The website for the museum said it also features Hellcat Chargers, vintage Corvettes, and a 1971 Husqvarna owned by the legendary Steve McQueen.
The unique thing about Decades of Wheels is that they consider their vehicles part of a “living collection.”
“We don’t want a bunch of big paperweights,” Hickmott said. “Cars should be driven, they have a soul when they are in use.”
Hickmott said while some of the race cars can’t be legally on the street most of the collection can and will be out and about in the community and at events.
That collection is impressive in its variety, and the team at Decades of Wheels will be bringing out the heavy hitters for this weekend’s event. Many of the cars shown on the first weekend will be custom made for the museum including two cars from Petty’s Garage, as well as builds from Nickey Performance, Dave “Daddy Dave” Comstock and Mad Max Cars among others. Some of the builders will be at the opening.
The big guns don’t stop at the cars and bikes though. Decades of Wheels has invited bands from across the eras as well.
The events kick off Friday, Oct. 12 with Grand Funk Railroad best known for their hits "American Band," and "Some Kind of Wonderful." The band is in its 49th year of touring. Drummer and vocalist Don Brewer said the best part of these concerts is seeing all the generations come together.
“I love seeing all the parents and grandparents along with their grandkids,” Brewer said. “The best thing is watching all those generations singing 'some kind of wonderful' together.”
The event swings toward new age country on Saturday, Oct. 13 when Granger Smith takes the stage. Smith is known for his songs "It Happens Like That" and "Backroad Song." Opening for Smith is the high energy rock band The Band of Heathens. The country rock band Reckless Kelly will also be performing Saturday. Reckless Kelly is known for their songs "Seven Nights in Eire" and 'Wicked Twisted Road'.
On Sunday, Oct. 14 the legendary late '60s rock band Steppenwolf takes the stage for their last concert before retirement. Steppenwolf appeared on the Easy Rider soundtrack with their performance of 'Born To Be Wild'. They are also known for the hits 'Magic Carpet Ride,' 'Sookie Sookie,' and 'It’s Never Too Late'.
The shows will be located in a venue set up just for the concerts in a field north of the Baxter Springs Police Station.
The weekend will also boast a car show on Saturday judged by celebrity judge Dave “Daddy Dave” Comstock. Comstock is on The Discovery Channel’s show Street Outlaws. The show benefits the Baxter Springs Volunteer Fire Department and starts at 10 a.m. with entrants being able to arrive starting at 8:30 a.m.
Sunday morning there will be a motorcycle show benefiting the Baxter Springs Auxiliary Police Department. Entrants may arrive starting at 8:30 a.m. with the show beginning at 10 a.m.
The car and motorcycle shows will be on Lincoln Street, starting at 8th and Lincoln.
Entry of a car or motorcycle into the show is $10 on the Decades of Wheels website. Entry to view the car show, motorcycle show, or museum is free throughout the opening weekend. Following opening weekend the museum entry fee is $5 per person.
Concert times, ticket sales, car/motorcycle registration and additional information on the museum are available on the Decades of Wheels website, www.decadesofwheels.com