If you haven’t heard it by now, the Central Wisconsin Military Vehicle Show is a show like no other. Show organizer and longtime dealer, Tom Zat, characterizes the annual event as “Fun in the Northwoods.” And anyone who has attended, the fun and games begin on Thursday and go through to late Saturday night.
The event takes place on the wooded spread of the Motorama Museum in Aniwa, Wisconsin (about equidistant from Wausau and Antigo). The woods does not stop at the museum’s gate, however. It embraces the entire complex. That means, the 50+ vehicle owners, all of the vendors, and dozens of reenactors are able to display and take part in the activities under the shade of towering oaks, maples, and pines.
This year, the theme of the event was the “Year of the Mule.” The call to the hobby included the phrase, “Don’t be an a$%, bring your Mule!” And they did. More than a dozen Mules could be counted on any of the event’s three days.
The fun began on Thursday with trail rides that included some serious mud holes. Lucky for participants, there were plenty of big trucks to pull out those who couldn’t make the crossing.
From there, the newly-muddied Mules participated in a “gymkhana” that included pushing 1/4-barrels and a blind-folded navigator-guided autocross that culminated with balancing on a teeter-totter.
By Friday morning, the event grounds and vendor spaces had filled. With a nod to Covid safety, no indoor vending took place — everything was outdoors leaving individuals to determine their own level of personal space and safety.
Friday concluded with a pinup contest featuring vintage fashions and attire and a live band.
Those who made it up for the 8 o’clock opening on Saturday satisfied breakfast options from an array of food trucks that were available on the grounds both days.
No vehicle driving is permitted on Saturday, but it didn’t slow the activity. Guests strolled the shaded road to view more than 50 historic military vehicles and talk to their owners.
This led them straight into the “upper” and “lower” vendor areas where they could find piles of militaria, firearms (NO live ammo), and vehicle parts. The WWII reenactors staged the “Battle of the Castle” that involved a very clever-for-2021 hypothetical scenario: The German Army reenactors were tasked at the end of war to round up Waffen SS soldiers. Who could complain about potential offensiveness of that one?
Small guided tours of the Autorama Museum were available, as well. For those who haven’t been there, the Museum houses a massive collection of unusual 20th century automobiles, racing cars, 100s of motorcycles and just one or two military vehicles. It is a celebration of internal combustion that has something for nearly every automotive taste.
Vendors aren’t able to leave early on Saturday. And to get them to want to stay, Zat hosts yet another party after closing that includes a whacky award ceremony (anyone who displays a vehicle with their window card gets an “award”) and more music and dancing. After 5PM, the vehicles can roll again, and boy do they. Though it is only a few hundred yards from the fully electrified camping grounds, many take the opportunity to attend the dance by way of Jeep or Mule. And why not, it’s all about showing your colors and having fun!
The annual event takes place on the third weekend in August. In 2022, this will be the weekend of August 18-20. The Motorama Auto Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, charitable organization, is Wisconsin’s largest auto museum. It is located at 181705 Stradale Lane, Aniwa, WI 54408; phone 715-449-2141. You can learn more about the Museum at www.alfaheaven.com and the Central Wisconsin Military Show at www.centralwisconsinmilitaryshow.com.
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