For some attendees as well as entrants, an automobile and motorcycle show featuring the finest rides from European manufacturers is simply outside their budget.
Then, there’s the Renaissance Euro Fest Classic European Auto & Motorcycle Show. To be held Oct. 3-5 at Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland, the sixth-annual Renaissance Euro Fest is free to both the public and participants.
“I made a decision when I started this thing that I was not going to charge someone for the privilege of showing their car or motorcycle,” said founder Mike Marsh. “I think that has been a big part of our success. Obviously, our sponsors have allowed us to offer Renaissance Euro Fest free of charge.”
Marsh said that another key to success is that the show is “fun, family-friendly and clean.”
“When I started this, I had to find a venue that matched the quality of the entrants, and the Renaissance is just first-class,” he said. “I’ve shopped all over the world, and it is as fine as any shopping destination in the world. The fountain, clock tower, flowers — it’s just fabulous.”
All of these factors has added up to Renaissance Euro Fest drawing hundreds of cars from across the Southeast, some with a seven-digit price tag, and thousands of visitors — last year’s crowd was estimated at approximately 15,000 people. Weather permitting, Marsh said, those numbers are expected to hit all-time highs this year.
All of this is the brainchild of Marsh, a native of Louisiana who earned a BBA in marketing from Southern Methodist University. He started his corporate career in apparel and lived all over the country before “shifting gears” and coming to Jackson in 1982 to establish Mississippi’s first Coors beer distributorship.
However, Marsh by that time had been a long-time classic car enthusiast with a special love for Mercedes-Benz. Upon retiring, he started mulling his idea for a show featuring only European cars and motorcycles.
After approximately a decade of thought and planning, Renaissance Euro Fest proved an instant hit. The first year, the show offered a $1.5-million Enzio Ferrari and a classic gullwing-doored Mercedes-Benz that would later sell for $2.43 million. Marsh said the number of entrants and visitors has grown every year since then.
This year’s event will begin with the Renaissance Rally Drive for entries. Starting at 11 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, from the Hyatt Hotel at the Renaissance, the drive will travel the back roads of Madison County with a lunch stop and then back to the Renaissance for the “Pick Up Your Packet” Reception.
The show be held on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Marsh is expecting 150 entries that were manufactured in five different countries and arriving from eight different states. As in years past, the vehicles will be parked around Renaissance and grouped by class and style. Entrants will vie for dozens of awards.
This year will also offer a significant first. On Sunday morning (Oct. 5) Renaissance Euro Fest will hold the “Pistons & Props Drive & Fly In.” (This was planned for last year, but was cancelled due to weather.) Entrants will caravan from Ridgeland and Pearl to the John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond where they will be joined by vintage World War II-era aircraft. Gates open at 11 a.m.
Proceeds from “Pistons & Props” will benefit a new scholarship for students in Hinds Community College’s aviation program and honor former Regions banker and experimental aviation enthusiast Mike Dalton, who passed away this past July.
Sponsors for Renaissance Euro Fest include the Ridgeland Tourism Commission, Paul Moak Volvo, Mercedes-Benz of Jackson, Porsche of Jackson, the law firm of Taggert, Rimes & Graham, Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry, The Mint and Sweet Peppers Deli.
Marsh has also established a similar event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Held at Baton Rouge’s L’Auberge Casino & Hotel, it will be held Nov. 1 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
“This is just so much fun for me,” Marsh said. “I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. All I do is classic cars and grandchildren.
“We have been fortunate that we have had good weather, a great venue in the Renaissance center, great sponsors and visitors and entrants that have come to the show then gone back home and talked about how great the event was,” Marsh said. “It has far exceeded any expectations I ever had.”
For more on the 2104 Renaissance Euro Fest Classic European Auto & Motorcycle Show, visit www.euro-fest.net.
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