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Shakedown put on hold

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After a year or two of shake ups, the Shakedown traditional hot rod show in Wisconsin will be on hiatus for 2017; organizer Mike Rosenow expects it to return to the EAA grounds in Oshkosh for 2018.

The show, originally called the Symco Shakedown, was held its first seven years on the grounds of the Symco Thresheree in Symco, Wis. Rosenow said he would not hold the Shakedown event there again in 2016 when he says he found out the property owners didn't have property liability insurance and would not obtain it. Following the decision, Rosenow moved the 2016 event to the rustic Pioneer Airport and EAA Campground. One of the former Symco Shakedown HELPERS then held a different traditional hot rod show on the Symco thresheree grounds on the second weekend of August, the same weekend as the Shakedown. THIS created a lot of animosity among the Wisconsin hot rod community and burned out the Shakedown staff.

“My core staff is tired, we’re beat up from all the negativity from last year and we didn’t have any drive to do it this year,” he said. “We are so sick of going places and people telling us that the show we built and I worked my ass off for years and it’s like, ‘Are you the fake one or the real one?’”

Rosenow said the Shakedown’s first year at the EAA Campgrounds and Pioneer Airport was a success.

“We were extremely happy with 2016,” Rosenow said. “[There were] no problems. We had zero problems. We changed a few things on the fly. The only issue we had was it was spread out and we wanted to fly planes in the Pioneer Airport and have our display there, but we had to park spectators in a different field than we wanted to because we needed a spillway for the runway and you couldn’t legally park cars there....Next year, the plan is to consolidate the whole show to one place on Whitman Field in one spot.”

Rosenow said the show attracted enough participants and spectators to cover the expense, making it a success. He also said 400 powered campsites were sold to participants and 500 vintage bicycles turned out for the event. Along with the vintage motorbike owners in attendance, the two-wheeled fans made use of the EAA’s well-maintained show grounds.

“One of the big things with our show was cruising through the show grounds — you could actually do that at the EAA. We talked about ramping that up like at Back to the 50’s. That was one of the biggest things: we found out we had a lot more freedom at EAA than we ever did at Symco.”

The Shakedown has always been more of a lifestyle event than just a car show. In addition to traditional hot rods, motorbikes and vintage campers and bicycles, the Shakedown has concentrated on music, mostly rockabilly-style, as well as rewarding the people who also dress the part by holding pinup contests. For 2018, Rosenow plans to tweak the event’s structure and ramp up the lifestyle part of the event.

“I don’t want to change away from our traditional hot rod theme, but we are going to do more of a general vintage show... we’re going to expand off into a few new areas and be less of a car show and more of a lifestyle event. We’re gong to emphasis the whole entire package, not just a car show.”

At this point in planning 2018, Rosenow expects to return to the EAA Campground and Pioneer Airport.

“Well, the thing with EAA, is it fixes all of the problems we had at the old location,” he said. “We didn’t have any power issues, we had nice buildings for vendors, we have water, showers, no dust and dirt and mud, GREAT ELECTRICAL HOOKUPS, we have all the space in the new venue. We didn’t have to turn cars away. All the space limitations and primitive issues we had because we were in a facility that didn’t have upgrades, we fixed all that, but we had the vintage atmosphere and we had a lot more it was moving to a facility that still had a lot of history, but was a professional venue on top of it.”

In the meantime, Rosenow is gearing up for a swap meet this fall and for his second “Polarama,” an outdoor, mid-winter event in MENASHA that drew 300 people and 45 cars that braved the road salt and cold last winter.

“We had a guy drive his motorcycle down from Denmark (Wis.) and a guy come down in a T bucket from Green Bay and it was cold that day — it was in the 20s.”

Find more about Rosenow’s events at his website, which retains the original name of his traditional hot rod show, at

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