WECO Outdoor Show is this weekend

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By Michelle Hollenhead

Ed Knight says he “felt like he birthed a baby” when he first started the WECO Outdoor Show 29 years ago.

As the show has matured, so has its scope and size, and is certainly no longer a “baby.”

Today, the Outdoor Show encompasses a two-day event, with gospel singing, arts and crafts, a variety of food, a wrestling exhibition and, at its center, a trade show for car, tractor and machinery enthusiasts.

Knight, who is general manager of the radio station, says he expects a crowd upward to 4,000, “weather permitting.”

Knight said he first started the show as an answer to “summer doldrums.”

“I was just looking for a way to market WECO advertising, as the summer is typically a slow time of year for us.

“It has morphed into much more than that, with more than 80 vendors thisyear alone.”

The show is not just about revenue, either, as it offers booth space and opportunities for non-profits and churches to share their stories, too.

One event which has certainly expanded over the years is the Highway Thunder Motorcycle Benefit Ride.

Entry fees are $25, and benefit the American Legion Post No. 149.

“They have raised [more than] $7,000 in donations, which they keep.”

Friday night is set aside solely for gospel music performers, including Wartburg First Baptist Youth Choir, Calvary Mens Trio and Journey Home.

Opening ceremonies Saturday will be at 9 a.m., and is a joint venture between WECO and the American Legion Hall. That event will recognize Vietnam vets, and will also honor participants in all military branches.

Saturday promises to be a day filled with activities, beginning with an ongoing car show, an arm wrestling competition at 10 a.m. and live wrestling at 12:30 p.m.

Kids games will kick off at 11:15 a.m.

Other events will include a Lawn Mower Demo Derby and a “Stuff the Fiesta” contest, where individuals will pay to see how many can fit inside a Ford Fiesta for a monetary prize.

There will also be an autograph session with FLW Champ and professional fisherman Brad Knight.

Throughout the day, there will be more music provided by Bluegrass Pilgrims, Bree Davis, Ronnie Morgan and Chill Factor.

A karaoke contest will round out the musical events at 3 p.m.

Knight said he very thankful for the support and cooperation the Outdoor Show has received down through the years, especially from the Wartburg merchants, the Morgan County Sheriff’s office and the Wartburg Police Department.

“The merchants are very supportive, as they are willing to give up their parking spaces for us.”

WECO will broadcast live throughout the day.

The Outdoor Show’s rain dates are July 21 and 22.