If you love vintage automobiles, oldies music, and gargantuan water fowl, keep Sunday, October 6 open.
The Friends of The Big Duck (FOBD) are holding their fifth annual Autumn Antique Auto Show, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are the stewards of Big Duck Ranch, home of the iconic roadside attraction located on Flanders Road/Rt. 24 between Riverhead and Hampton Bays. This family friendly, for-a-good-cause fundraiser is becoming a local tradition, featuring up to 100 cars and trucks, 25 years or older. The proceeds will go toward restoring a Victorian-era barn on the premises of The Big Duck Ranch. Funds will be used to develop exhibits focused on the duck farming that once thrived on the East End, and for the care and feeding of the Big Duck itself. This super-sized Peking duck (20’ high X 30’ long X 15’ wide) was hatched in 1931, on West Main Street in Riverhead. It waddled over to Route 24 in Flanders in 1936, moved once again in 1987 to Sears-Bellows Park, and returned to its present location, 1012 Flanders Road on October 6, 2007. The duck is outfitted with a pair of Ford Model T taillight lenses for eyes, so one can surmise that it will be looking down kindly upon the event.
The show features an eclectic assortment of vintage vehicles—pickups to cabriolets, sports cars to family sedans, foreign and domestic. The East End has a very active community of antique auto collectors and enthusiasts, so the quality and range of cars on display will be quite impressive. For example, Peter Lee, a Southampton collector of note, will be showing his rare 1956 Studebaker Sky Hawk, one of only 66 registered in the USA; only 3,050 were ever produced. Lee does around 10 shows a year, and particularly likes the FOBD show, saying “its low-key pleasant environment is perfect for the family,” and the location, “in a beautiful field behind The Big Duck is a perfect place.” Lee enjoys the people he meets and sharing information about the his Sky Hawk, a real crowd-pleaser.
People’s Choice trophies will be voted upon by the attendees for First, Second and Best of the Rest awards, plus there will be 20 runner-up trophies. In addition, an Early Bird trophy will go to the first car to have been registered for the event, and the Farthest Traveled trophy will be given to the entry that has traveled the longest distance to be shown. FOBD volunteers will choose a Best Work in Progress winner as well, I imagine for a vehicle in splendid disarray.
The show kicks off at 9 a.m., and vendors will be on hand with refreshments, T-shirts, merchandise and “Duck-a-Bilia” of various description. Raffle tickets will go on sale and auction bids will be accepted starting at 9:30 a.m., and at noon the Flanders Fire Department Honor Guard will present the colors, the flag will be saluted, and Antoinette Spano will sing the national anthem. The People’s Choice Awards voting will close around 2:15 p.m., and the awards will be presented around 3 p.m.
Throughout the day Flanders resident Vinnie V. will donate his services as deejay, spinning oldies in keeping with the “seasoned” autos on hand. Tours of the Big Duck will be given from 1 to 5 p.m., and I heard a rumor that anyone presenting an AFLAC card will get special consideration. Just a rumor.
Entrance fee for vehicles is $20 day of show. Vehicles must be currently registered, insured and equipped with working fire extinguishers. Admission for walk-ins is only $5, and children under 12 accompanied by an adult, get in free. According to Event Chairman and Friends of The Big Duck Vice President, Neil Young, “there’s still room for a few good vendors. Vendor spots are $40 for a 10’ x 10’ spot.” For more information you may call 631-284-3737, and go to the FOBD website, bigduck.org.
Big Duck Ranch is a Southampton Town Park, and parking is free. The entrance for parking is at the sign for the Flanders Men’s Club, on Route 24, a few hundred feet south of the Big Duck. Restroom facilities are provided, (for the handicapped as well), and the rain date is October 20.
At this time, the Southampton Town Board is working on a grant resolution to receive funding for a program to promote “Long Island Duck Farming: A Southampton Tradition.” These monies are earmarked to “pay for the design, fabrication, and installation of a permanent exhibit at the Big Duck Ranch…” Great things are in store for the big bird, and I can’t think of a better way to get involved than to spend an autumn Sunday looking at vintage vehicles under the benevolent gaze of the 82-year-old Big Duck.
Big Duck Ranch,1012 Flanders Road, Flanders, 631-852-3377, bigduck.org