×

Hundreds of vans line Franklin County Fairgrounds for second annual event 

  • Vans line up to be judged during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Attendees of the second annual Boogie Affair take shelter from the rain during the event presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Spectators peruse vans as they line up to be judged during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Bernie Levesque wipes off the rain from his van during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Spectators peruse vans as they line up to be judged during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Spectators peruse vans as they line up to be judged during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • A Wizard of Oz inspired van displayed during the second annual Boogie Affair presented by the New England Van Council at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Saturday, August 11, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Saturday, August 11, 2018

GREENFIELD — They all started off with one thing in common: a love of vans.

“Now, it’s a social thing, a family thing,” said Johnny Rappa, sitting across from a vintage maroon Ford van that he “built from the ground up,” his friend, Mark Lathrop, chimed in.

It was the second annual van show at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, hosted by the New England Van Council, Inc. However, the members of the council were no strangers to hosting such shows, and have been doing so across New England for decades.

And they’ll be doing it a lot more too. They’ve signed a contract with the fair to hold the event for 10 years in Greenfield.

Despite the rainy weather, 214 vans showed up for the event Saturday. There were old and new vans, lifted vans, painted vans, Fords, GMCs, Chevrolets, Volkswagens and vans so customized that the original make and model was indiscernible.

“It’s exciting because we’ve signed a contract for 10 years to be here. It’s fun and it gives back locally. People go down into town and they’ll use the restaurants and help the local economy,” Lathrop said. “People come from all over. We had one with plates from Montana.”

However, despite the fun to be had Saturday, the members of the New England Van Council couldn’t help but talk about next year, “the big one.”

From July 24 through July 28, 2019, the 47th Van Nationals event will be held at the fairgrounds, and around 500 to 600 vans are expected at the event.

“That’s the big one,” Lathrop said with a laugh. “We’re an ambitious group.”

According to Rappa, such van shows like the one Saturday were common in the 1970s, and enthusiasts could find a show within driving distance just about every weekend. Things aren’t exactly the same now, but with social media exposing younger generations to the niche, while also allowing older van lovers to connect, van shows can start to make a comeback.

“It’s really started to make a resurgence,” Rappa said.

The good showing this year, as well as the national event being held in Greenfield next year, should prove him right, Rappa said.

“It’s something that everybody is welcome to,” Lathrop said. “We’ve just been doing it for so long that it’s become a way of life.

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.