Rushford Days Car Cruise and Car Show under new direction

Kayla & Leigh Volkman

Adam, Amy and Annie Engelhart
By : 
Kathleen Lynn
Tri-County Record

The always-popular Rushford Days car events are entering a new era. Leigh and Kayla Volkman of L&L Volkman Auto Body Repair, are taking over organizational duties from Pam Brand, who started the Car Cruise and Car Show ten years ago. 

After the 2017 Rushford Days Car Show and Car Cruise, Brand approached the Volkmans and asked if they would be interested in heading the events in the future, starting with 2018. Both Leigh and Kayla had an extensive background in autos, so Brand thought they’d be a good fit. They welcomed the opportunity. Leigh now heads the committee in charge of the Rushford Days Car Cruise and Car Show events.

New look for the Car Cruise

The Volkmans are working with the committee to oversee the car events, which include the addition of a new major sponsor, Adam Engelhart of AAA Restoration.

This year’s cruise, scheduled for July 18 at 6 p.m., will begin at the Rushford American Legion. Pre-registration is open now at L&L Volkman Auto Body at 305 Industrial Drive, or on the day of the event after 4 p.m. There is a $10 entry/participant fee that includes a t-shirt and dinner, provided by Fred Engelhart following the cruise at Engelhart Performance on Highway 16 east of Rushford. Music will be provided by “Last Call Meldahl.”

 The format of the cruise has changed since years past. Instead of making multiple stops, there will only be one stop for dinner at Engelhart Performance. The length of the cruise is limited to one hour due to the event being held on a weeknight to allow people time to attend. These changes came about due to a lot of feedback from various cruisers. As always, the cruise is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the cars and the beautiful Rushford area.

Car Show new location, format

The 2018 Rushford Days Car Show will be held Saturday, July 21 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in front of Anderson Auto at 207 S. Elm St. Registration is from 10:30 a.m.-noon. Pre-registration is welcomed at L&L Volkman Auto Body.

This year’s Car Show offers a few changes to encourage more entries and appeal to a larger crowd. There will not be any judges for the vehicles. Cars, trucks, semis, motorcycles, etc. of all years are welcome. People with rides that they are proud of should feel comfortable dusting them off (if necessary) and bringing them to this fun event. The first 75 vehicles to pre-register will be given dash plaques. Sponsor representatives will be looking over the registered vehicles and each will award one 5” x 7” plaque for their favorite vehicle in the show. Vehicles do not have to be in any specific condition, rating, or stage of restoration to be awarded a plaque. The events will remain kid-friendly and family-oriented.

Participating vehicles can range from old survivors in original shape to high-end expensive models. It takes a lot of work, time, and money to restore, customize, or build these rides, not to mention maintain, to keep them running and looking good. The public wants to see what vehicles are out there, sometimes hear them run or even hear each one’s special story. People of all ages (and kids) enjoy seeing these vehicles as much as the owners have pride in showing and driving them.

Volkmans have rich automotive background 

The Volkmans are from the Rushford area and both grew up in the automotive world. Both have been involved in repairing and restoring various autos and classics, not to mention car shows and cruising. Leigh also raced for 15 years. 

Leigh retired from racing four years ago and bought the established auto body business (L&L Volkman Auto Body). The Volkmans restored a 1969 Gran Torino that they had purchased in the Spring of 2016 after it had been severely devastated in a barn fire. By the July 2016 Rushford Days Car Show, they were able to show the car, with most exterior work completed while awaiting the interior work. Rushford Days 2017 Car Show found the car on display with the total restoration completed. 

The Volkmans realized that showing their restored car was an excellent way to show off their abilities. They are currently working on Kayla’s recent acquisition of her dad’s 1970 Chevelle SS (Super Sport). Kayla grew up helping her dad with this car. He used to race it at tracks around Wisconsin, often with her in tow. Her parents were cruisers too. 

Since the Volkmans attend numerous cruises, shows, and auto events, they are quite familiar with how car enthusiasts’ events work, and what makes them successful. When asked what one word came to each of their minds to describe these auto events and processes, their responses were: “Beautiful” and “Entertaining.” Car enthusiasts would most likely agree. Vehicles can be beautiful, and the events entertaining and just plain fun.

Besides handling the Rushford Days Car Events, Leigh continues to work on various auto makes, years, and models in his auto body business. The oldest vehicles he has worked on (so far) are customers’ 1920’s models. Frequently, the business does paint jobs on older vehicles, and classics. Some of this work will be seen as some of the customers’ cars and trucks head for car shows this year. 

Currently, they have two classics they are working on for customers. One job in the shop is for a repeat customer, a white convertible 1970 Cuda. The other is a supercharged 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk. Hopefully, these vehicles will be showing off their work in future Rushford Days Car Shows and Cruises.


Leigh’s vision for the future Rushford Days Car Show and Car Cruise is going to depend a lot on how things go this year. Everything will be monitored for any ideas for that may develop as the events unfold. The committee is working with their various sponsors to make these events as enjoyable as possible for the community. The events are to stay family themed and are to remain “fun.” 

It is hoped that they will continue to grow in size as more locals and people from outside of Rushford attend and/or participate. They want to make the events more fun for kids to get them involved. Leigh states that people should be entertained and enjoy going to the events so that they want to come to Rushford to “hang out for the weekend.” Perhaps Leigh summed it up best, “Come out and enjoy yourself.”