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Frequently Asked Questions about Art Car Weekend (prior to 2003)

1. What is Art Car Weekend?

2. When is Art Car Weekend?

3. What is the parade route?

4. I'm coming from out of town. Where is a good place to stay?

5. What is the Art Car Symposium?

6. What is the Main Street Drag?

7. What is the Art Car Ball?

8. Where do the cars come from?

9. How can I participate?

10. Where can I see the cars besides the parade?

11. Are prizes awarded for best parade entries?

12. What is The Orange Show, and how is it involved with Art Cars?



What is Art Car Weekend?

According to the Orange Show:

"Art Car Weekend is non-stop celebration of the drive to create featuring the nation's largest parade of decorated automobiles, a.k.a. Art Cars. The 13th annual extravaganza involves more than 1,400 people from across the nation, a local audience of 250,000 spectators, and media representatives from as far away as Germany and Japan. The Weekend activities are all open to the public and include the Main Street Drag, the Art Car Symposium, The Art Car Parade and the Art Car Ball."



When is Art Car Weekend?

In 2000, Art Car Weekend is Friday, April 14 through Sunday April 16. Traditionally, the Art Car Parade occurs on the first Saturday of the Houston International Festival, a downtown cultural event that always occurs in April, usually in the middle of the month.



What is the parade route?

Parade starts rolling at 12:30 PM.

  • Start at Allen Parkway and Taft
  • Proceed eastbound down Allen Parkway (outbound side) underneath the Highway 45 Overpass and onto Lamar
  • Continues eastbound down Lamar, then turns left onto Smith Street
  • Continue down Smith, then turn left again onto McKinney
  • Continue down McKinney , then right on o Bagby
  • Continue down Bagby , then turn left o to Walker
  • Continue down Walker back underneath the Highway 45 Overpass and onto Allen Parkway
  • At Taft, the parade will cross over onto Allen Parkway (Inbound side) and travel all the way to the Art Car Ball site located at Clay and Dallas


I'm coming from out of town. Where is a good place to stay?

Before Tropical Storm Allison in 2000, the best place to stay was the Allen Park Inn. Located across the street from the parade line-up on Allen Parkway, it was clean, cozy and quite tolerant. Unfortunately, the Allen Park Inn closed its doors in the Fall of 2000.

Looking to blow a few bucks? Try the DoubleTree downtown on Dallas. It is located very close to the Art Car Ball site which also happens to be the end of the parade.

DoubleTree Hotel at Allen Center
400 Dallas
(713) 759-0202


What is the Art Car Symposium?

The Art Car Symposium is a mini-conference that takes place Friday evening. This year, the Symposium is at The Rice Media Center located on the Rice University Campus. Start time is 7 PM.

A number of guest speakers discuss various topics related to art cars. Past discussions have included a colorful and humorous slide show about the birth of the art car movement presented by Larry Fuente as well as the heart-breaking tale of The Big Horn Truck as told by owner Hyler Bracey (http://www.big-horn.com/).



What is the Main Street Drag?

The Main Street Drag is a collection of cars that parade around town during the day on Friday visiting schools, hospitals and day car centers. It's main purpose is to bring the parade to the people who may not be able to make it downtown. Last year, the Main Street Drag actually consisted of 4 teams, all of which had 8 to 10 cars. Each team had a specific route with 3 to 5 stops. Each stop was a short visit with a bunch of kids.



What is the Art Car Ball?

The Art Car Ball is one of the best parties of the year where all of parade participants mingle with the greater Houston community of art car admirers. Thousands of people pile into a parking garage in Downtown Houston along with the hundred or so cars and have a rip roaring time. Food, drink and tons to look at, the Art Car Ball is notorious for featuring the most outlandish costumes of the year.

This year, the Ball will be located once again at The Allen Center Parking Garage on Clay at Dallas. Tickets cost $40 for the general public, $30 for Orange Show Members. To purchase tickets, call the Orange Show at (713) 926-6368.



Where do the cars come from?

Most of the cars are built here in Houston. Probably 30% of the cars are driven on the roads of Houston all year long, half of those being "daily drivers."

Another 30% to 40% of the cars come from all over the U.S., some even from Mexico. In the past, cars have come from Oregon, Washington, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Minnesota, St. Louis, Chicago, Florida, Georgia, and Maryland.

The remaining cars are built just for the parade. Perhaps as many as one quarter of these entries are from local and regional schools, elementary to high school. There are musical entries, usually bands on wheels, but one or two marching bands have participated in the past. Interestingly enough, some of the cars created just for the parade become "daily drivers."



How can I participate?

Entries are accepted via application only, and the deadline is usually the first week of March. Entries are reviewed and most are approved for parade participation. Due to the growing number of applications, some may be denied though this rarely happens. If you are approved, you receive notification in the mail and eventually will receive a participation packet that explains the rest.

There are others ways to participate besides driving a weird automobile in the parade. Many volunteers are needed to make Art Car Weekend happen. As a volunteer, you may be assigned to such duties as directing cars during parade lineup, collecting tickets at the Art Car Ball or distributing People's Choice Ballots - just to name a few. If you would like to volunteer, contact Eren Johnson at The Orange Show by phone Mon. Wed. Fri. (713) 926-6368.



Where can I see the cars besides the parade?

There are a variety of ways to enjoy the sights besides the parade. The best opportunity is to view the cars on Saturday morning as they line up. This usually begins around 10 AM along Allen Parkway eastbound. Allen Parkway is blocked off and only parade entries proceed into the line-up area. However, you can come on foot and walk the line-up for a close look at all of the cars. Please keep in mind, however, that these cars (and other contraptions) are in the business of getting a parade ready so please be cautious of running/moving vehicles and pay attention to parade officials (almost always on skates).

The next best place to see the cars in the Art Car Ball. Since this event is at night, though, you get a much different view. The parking garage where the Ball takes place may or may not be well-lit, and this often makes it a challenge to get a good look at a car with lots of details.

You might try attending the Art Car Symposium on Friday evening. There are usually at least a dozen cars parked in the parking lot that you can look at for a couple of hours. Better yet, join us in the Symposium and learn something new about art cars.



Are prizes awarded for best parade entries?

Yes. Every year, a panel of nationally recognized scholars, artists, and art patrons select the best entries of the parade. The decisions of the Judges are based on: Theme, Craftsmanship, Design, and Originality. First place winners are awarded cash prizes for a variety of categories. Trophies and non-cash prizes may be awarded to 2nd and 3rd place winners in the latter 11 categories.

This year's categories include:
  • Judges Choice
  • Participants Choice
  • Peoples Choice
  • Art Car
  • Classic Car (30 years or older)
  • Contraption
  • Cycle
  • Everyday Driver
  • Lowrider
  • Music
  • Performance
  • Political Statement
  • Skater
  • Youth Group Entry


What is The Orange Show, and how is it involved with Art Cars?

The Orange Show is a folk art environment located on the east side of downtown Houston at 2402 Munger St. (713) 926-6368.

According to the Orange Show:

"The Orange Show Foundation is a non-profit organization, founded in 1980 to preserve, present, promote and popularize the extraordinary artistic expressions of ordinary people. This is accomplished through the maintenance of The Orange Show monument, an archive and library, and a diverse schedule of cultural and educational programs for children and adults. Workshops and participatory activities provide the opportunity, means, and inspiration to experience the creative process.

The Orange Show is a folk-art environment - a monumental work of handmade architecture - in Houston's east end. It was built single handedly from 1956 until its completion in 1979, by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, Houston postal worker. The outdoor 3,000 square foot monument is maze like in design and includes an oasis, a wishing well, a pond, a stage, a museum, a gift shop, and several upper decks. It is constructed of concrete, brick, steel and found objects including gears, tiles, wagon wheels, mannequins, tractor seats and statuettes. Jeff McKissack's creation extols the virtues of his favorite fruit and encourages visitors of all ages to follow his theories relating health and longevity to good nutrition, hard work and eating oranges. The Orange Show is one of the most important folk art environments in the United States."

In the 80's, The Orange Show became involved with the fledgling art car community and, sensing the similarities among art cars and the Orange Show Monument, decided to champion the art car cause by hosting an annual event featuring transformed vehicles. They created the Art Car Weekend to celebrate this unique form of artistic expression and the rest is history.

To learn more about the Orange Show and the history of Art Car Weekend, visit their web site at http://www.orangeshow.org.

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Last update April 1, 2004