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Iola Military Vehicle Show becomes Central Wisconsin Military Show

If I have learned only two things from working for large organizations, it is this: When the boss calls a “town hall meeting” to listen to concerns or take input from the staff, the decisions have already been made. So, when I received a call last week to let me know that the Iola Military Vehicle Show would be canceled, I knew no one was asking for my opinion — the hammer had already fallen, and, after 25 years, the Iola Military Show was to be no more.

To be sure, having run for a quarter of a century, the end of the Iola Military Vehicle Show is a blow to upper Midwest historic military vehicle hobby. But, as I mentioned, my experience in this business has taught me two things. The second is, out of change, opportunities arise.

Within 12 hours of learning of the end of the show, my phone was ringing — people were exploring how to “keep the show going.” I shared with each what I had been told about the decision. The reason for cancellation was straight forward: Insurance. The combination of reenactments featuring pyrotechnics, large trucks driving among the audience, and live-firing weapons on the premise — among other reasons — made it overwhelming from an insurance point of view. The owners of the show, the Iola Old Car Show, Inc., made it clear they were no longer in a position to host the show on their property.

Almost as quickly as the news came, a phoenix rose up from the now- former show. The Motorama Museum in Aniwa, Wisconsin, (about 18 miles east of Wausau and 40 miles north of Iola) was happy to take over the reigns and provide an all-new venue. Billing it the “Central Wisconsin Military Show,” the Motorama Museum offered its grounds and facilities for hosting the show.

The Motorama Museum is a perfect complement to the show. Featuring more than 400 antique cars, motorcycles, and trucks, the museum provides a strong backdrop for a gathering of military vehicles on its event grounds (that includes acres of rolling terrain). Event organizer, Tom Zat, spoke with enthusiasm, “The Museum celebrates the automotive hobby. We are excited to provide a backdrop for the most important gathering of military vehicle enthusiasts in the upper Midwest."

Schedule to be open to the public on Saturday, August 12, 2017, the all-new Central Wisconsin Military Show grounds will be accessible to vendors the day before. Because the event will wrap up with music and a dance on Saturday evening, vendors are welcome to stay until Sunday.


Nothing stays the same, so it is no surprise that, with a new venue, the show will take on some new characteristics, as well. While there will be no longer be a reenactment “battle.” reenactors will have the opportunity to establish realistic encampments where they can engage with the public in a “living history” setting. In addition, vehicle judging will occur, with trophies awarded in a variety of classes. Live entertainment will be on site on Saturday evening, as well. People attending the show will have free admission to the Motorama Museum. Food vendors will provide a variety of treats that families can enjoy on the shaded grounds.

And yet, many of the features of the show will be familiar: Large vendor area, camping arrangements, parades of vehicles, and a chance to meet old and new friends. The wooded setting is conducive to creating a historic backdrop for the gathering of vehicles, reenactors, and enthusiasts.

Change within the hobby is always scary. But sometimes, as in the case of the Iola Military Vehicle Show, it is unavoidable. What we, as members of the hobby, do in the face of change, is what defines us, however. While the Iola Military Show provided a backdrop for commemorating military history in central Wisconsin for a quarter of a century, it doesn’t have to be the “last place” to do that. Military Vehicles Magazine is excited about the prospect of a new venue, new activities, and a new way to celebrate the hobby. We hope you will make plans to join us this August 12 at the Motorama Museum in Aniwa, Wis.

Keep ‘em rolling,

John Adams-Graf

Editor, Military Vehicles Magazine and Military Trader

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