History of the Devereaux - Kaiser Collector Car Show

History of the Devereaux - Kaiser Collector car show

tom kaiserThis article was written by Tom Kaiser, the picture of Tom was taken in January 2014 at the Devereaux - Kaiser show this was the last meet Tom attended; he passed away just two months later.

I met Maurice Devereaux in 1966 when he came to the bank I ran looking for a short term loan. He pulled into the bank parking lot in his’29 Stearns Knight sedan, and of course he was promptly assured the line of credit he was seeking. That began a long term friendship which only ended with his death at the age of 100 (almost 101) on August 4, 2009.

In 1970 the Florida Classic Car Club wanted a place to hold their annual meeting. Maurice Devereaux offered his home for the annual meeting. Maurice prepared a huge pot of baked beans and a large ham. Others brought various dishes to share on the long table in Maurice Devereaux’s garage. The annual meeting was held on the back porch. It was established that the Devereaux show would be held each January, on the last Sunday.

The first attendance was 7 classics: Maurice Devereaux’s “30 Packard and ’29 Stearns Knight, Tom Kaiser’s ’36 Packard, ’12 Coupe Roadster, Robert Word’s ’30 Pierce Arrow, Touring, Hovey brother’s Rolls Royce and and Phil Belotee’s ’30 Marmon big 8. Subsequent years saw people attracted by the display of cars in the front yard, and they began to show up with their collector cars, as well as classics. One year, a family pulled their camper truck in to view the show but they also partook of the pot luck food which left some of the participants without anything to eat.

Maurice Devereaux was so angry he discontinued the pot luck and the local Rotary club, to which I belonged, took on the project of cooking food for the show. That continued until I moved the show in 1981, when the local Lupus Society took on the project and did it until they disbanded around 1983 when a local Mennonite Church took it on and continued to provide wonderful food.

One year Maurice decided to have judging (against my protest) and we awarded 1st to a ’29 Pierce Arrow coupe, 2nd and 3rd to others. There were so many complaints about the judging that Maurice decided to have a “peoples choice” judging the next year. When tabulating had been completed, a ’51 MG Roadster had the most “votes” and upon closer inspection, it was discovered that the same hand writing was evident on ALL the votes for that particular car. It seems that a daughter of a Sarasota attorney decided she should have the win, so packed the ballot box. Maurice was so angry with that he decided there would never be judging again! Thus was the tradition that this would be a free show and the theme became “Show up and show off”!

The show grew to 126 cars in his yard in 1980 when he held the last meet there since he had sold his home. I decided that it had become too popular to discontinue, so arranged with the airport to have the show in an area called “the pavilion”, some nick named it “the snake pit” since it was partially marshland. It Was held there till about 1985 when it had to be moved to a go-kart track on old US 301 east of the airport.

In 1991 local AACA region (Sunshine Region) approached me to take it on and the last show I did produced 537 cars. Sunshine Region renamed it the Devereaux - Kaiser Collector Car show, and subsequently moved it to a shopping mall in South Sarasota. There it remained through 2012 show with the exception of three years. One year it rained out and was the only year it had been “officially” canceled. Three of us stationed ourselves at the site to inform arrivals that it had been rained out. So many showed up that we diverted them to a vacant shopping center for an impromptu “unofficial” show. One other year the shopping mall thought it was a bother, so the show was moved to the County fairgrounds, and another year it was moved to the Ed Smith stadium grounds. The shopping mall merchants decided the show brought in lots of business so agreed to have it return, Arne Burns had been the leader in establishing it at the Westfield shopping mall for years. He “retired” in 2013, and Ed Smith took it on. He arranged to move it to Lakewood Ranch which claims to want it on a permanent basis.

I am the only person who has attended every one of the gatherings since 1970. In 1972 I lived in Naples, drove up just for the meet - slept on a mat on the floor of a home I had “for sale” in Sarasota. Maurice Devereaux missed one meet in about 1996 due to a ruptured appendix.

Jim Greenwald had the honor of having the CAR that attended the most meets being his ’29 Rolls Royce sedan, probably about 32 meets until his death in 2008! The show had grown over the years to the point that attendance is now in excess of 2000 cars, and thousands of spectators. It remains free for display cars 25 years or older. There has been a “Car corral' established for cars for sale. There is a $25.00 charge to display in the car corral, and that is very reasonable for the great exposure received.

Because there is no entry fees and no judging, cars are displayed at this show that are not displayed any where else. It has been said that this is probably the largest show in the state, certainly the largest FREE show!

Tom Kaiser

In 2017 the AACA Sunshine Region car club approached the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent Fund about taking over the Devereaux - Kaiser show, the Firefighters assisted with the last show organized by Ed Smith and the Sunshine Region car club at Lakewood Ranch, January 2018.

In 2018 The Sunshine Region car club, and the Sarasota Firefighters Benevolent came to an agreement for the Firefighters to take control of the show; the show was to retain much of its “history”, including not charging for display cars, no judging or registration, and cars only older than 25 years. The Sunshine Region AACA club would continue to manage the “Car corral” portion of the show.

The show would be headed by Firefighter and long time DK show participant, Dana Anderson, firefighter Patty Wacha and dozens of other firefighters, their family’s and friends volunteering their time.

It was determined that the show would be moved to the Sarasota County fairgrounds for 2019 (this proved to be a good decision as Lakewood Ranch began to develop the grounds where the show was previously held). The show was scheduled for the last Sunday of January, the 27th 2019.

As the show was approaching the weather reports for Sunday were becoming extremely bleak, by Saturday there was a 100% chance of torrential rains all day! With less than 24 hours, we decided to cancel the show for only the second time in the history of the show.

The show was rescheduled for Sunday March 31st 2019, despite the date move we still welcomed over 700 show cars and thousands of spectators! Many of the attendees enjoyed the food provided by the several food trucks, draft beer and music by Lance Hubschmitt; we provided a large tent with tables and chairs so that attendees could enjoy their lunch, and listen to the music. Jackie Kaiser was in attendance and Ferd Thompson served popcorn from his antique Chevrolet popcorn truck (a staple of the DK show)!

The weather on the March show date was perfect, this got us thinking about moving the show to a more “stable” and predictable time of the year in terms of weather (any of us that have attended the show over the years can remember many dreary, rainy, and cold January Sundays)

With the approval of Jackie Kaiser and the Sunshine Region AACA car club we would move the show to the more dry and stable month of April, the show will continue to be one of the two weekends after Easter (pending the fairgrounds schedule).

In 2020 and ’21 the Firefighters were forced to cancel the show due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Several “independent” sources had posted the show on various sites, and social media that were out of our control, and we couldn’t modify them, unfortunately many enthusiast still showed up for the show…this was one of the main driving forces to establish an “official” Devereaux - Kaiser car show website.

We will continue to uphold the “theme” and “feel” of this wonderful show, never charging for show car entry (donations always welcome of course), never any registration or judging, cars must be over 25 years old.

We will invite food vendors to provide delicious food and drinks, cold draft beer, vendors and of course great cars and great friends!

Show up and Show off!!