Friday, May 11, 2012

Why Vintage Torque Fest has to move in 2013

I don’t often sit down to write words like this, but some recent backlash to the moving of Vintage Torque Fest to Dubuque Iowa has my stomach turning. I feel like mostly this note is going to the folks who are local and vocal, but perhaps it’s a few who live further out too who have an issue going another 30 minutes down the road from Maquoketa. 
In order to really get a feel for this I need to go back a few years to the beginning of John and my relationship. About 5 years ago I get a call out of the blue from this guy who wants to put my art on the cover of this start up magazine that didn't even have a title, which became known as Vintage Torque. From the magazine grew a line of videos that I’ve done some work on along with other fellow artists like Doug Dorr, Max Grundy, Doug Horne and Deathray Designs
Somewhere down the line I get some more calls from John about attempting to put on a show in Iowa called Vintage Torque Fest. My first reaction was that I thought that it would be a hard sell to get people to come to a show in middle america, I suggested getting it closer to Chicago land area. On top of that I thought he’d need a pretty good gimmick to get people to come out to the middle of a corn field to set up. But John had a handful of ideas that he’d gathered after spending years traveling around from show to show vending and his “field of dreams” idea would happen. Like a man possessed, he began to max out credit cards to put on the first Torque Fest, gambling that people will come to Farley Iowa to race in the rain around a dirt track. 
The first year was a success with a lot of great bands, vendors and people who came out to support the show. The proceeds of all the shows to date go to Helping Hannahs Heart. I think most people don’t discover that point on the posters clear enough because it’s often integrated into the art itself. The important thing to know in this is that the first show didn’t have any proceeds, neither did the second!
So John and Kim who work their asses off year round to put on what many consider the mid-west’s greatest traditional show is because they hope to help pay themselves back and pray to help out on their daughter Hannah’s medical bills. Why? To make the show grow, have people come out and enjoy and give to a great cause.
2012 Torque Fest comes along and wraps up nicely. This is the first year the show began to show a profit for Hannah’s medical bills. Let’s keep in mind, because I know the Wells family that they are humble, mid-west folks and don’t want to get into a sob story, as I am cut from the same hunk of wood. But you should know that Hannah’s surgeries have been close to $1,000,000.00 to date (that’s right, a MILLION fucking Bucks!). They don’t parade Hannah around to make you cry and don’t blast you with the details of what it takes to be a parent who gives everything for their children; like I said, they are humble. Thankfully, John and Kim, despite being independently employed have some insurance. Being someone else who is independently employed, insurance costs and co-pays are high. I spent several years, along with my wife with no insurance, in fact, my son was born without it. We know someone out there is smiling on us to have a healthy child and I can only imagine what Kim and John have gone through.
Back to Torque Fest 2012: The show was again a success. But with it being a success for the first time and the state of growth with the Jackson County Fairgrounds hemorrhaging at the seams with vehicles, it was time to make the change to something that will accommodate the space needed to put on this quality of a show and actually begin to make a dent in medical bills.
To boot, as much as I liked the little town of Maquoketa as it reminded me a lot of Morris, IL from the Hunnert Car pile-up days, the Fair Board couldn’t give even a penny on any concessions sold at the show to the cause. John spends somewhere in the neighborhood of $30-40,000 in just advertising to bring people to the show, who spend money on food and drinks with the Fair who can’t kick back $1 in thanks? I overheard some folks talking in the kitchen area that they purchased every hunk of meat within a 20 mile radius of the town to keep the food going, I venture to say that they are the ones who are making any money in this situation, and not going to Hannah’s medical bills. 
(Update: the tips given to the employees of the fair board for concessions were donated to Helping Hannahs Heart)
So needless to say, to put on the 2013 show, things had to change. The Wells family needed some breaks in concessions, space for the growth of the show, hotels to house the folks from out of town, restaurants that had some variety and hours that can accommodate then needs for the Torque Fest(ers). 
Having helped out with a multiple independent shows, I know these things don’t happen for free. It takes a lot of scratch and pulling in friends and neighbors to break even most of the time. It’s a love for the show; to see the smiling faces, to hear the cheers of the crowds from hot rods ripping around a track or a band that just laid it all out on a kick-ass performance. When the show is done many like to jump on their favorite social media to share photos and comments on their experience. When the announcement was made about the moving of the show, I was upset by the number of people out there who flamed up on moving of the show.
Really? no seriously, REALLY? 40 miles up the road becomes a no-go for you people? A move that lets the show grow to what it NEEDS to be to keep it going, bring you the great bands, the awesome events to see, and the chaos of Torque Fest. Let me break down just a few numbers for this show for you:
Using the $10 entry fee, here’s what it takes:
400 show paying customers to come through to pay for the event insurance.
another 100 of you just to get port-a-potties so you can take a shit
another 600 of you to get the bands to show up and another 200 of you so you can hear the bands play through the P.A.’s
This is only a small insight on the show, as I mentioned the advertising costs associated already, you get the picture. It takes Kim and John every ounce of space on their credit cards maxed out to put this show on all in the name of the hopes of gaining something to put a dent in the medical bills for their daughter, Hannah.
I don’t often toot my own horn on this, but I really come out to Torque Fest to break even  on what I donate to the show. A lot of time and effort for the illustration, art and graphics I do for the show is a gift to the show because I believe in putting on a good show and John and Kim are personal friends of mine. I drive just shy of 1000 miles round trip from Detroit. I don’t even like to think about it because I’m a pretty logical person, but I do it anyway for the last three years because I believe in the show, the cause and bringing the best to the mid-west indie shows. The traditional Hot Rod scene is something I believe in and I put my heart, mind and sole behind it. I don’t get a volunteer t-shirt at the end of the day, nor do I get a discount on the merch, even if I created it, I buy it back for the same cost. 
When I read what people write on Facebook about the show, it burns my ass. After you read this and still think that it is a bad move to relocate the show still and you could even say the words you wrote to the face a little girl who has endured multiple heart surgeries or her parents who give EVERYTHING they have to put on this show, then leave your comments up. But, if this gives you a hint of everything the core group of people who put on this show, year after year go through, then I implore you to remove your negative comments about the show, and please come and be welcome in 2013 at Torque Fest.
Keven Carter @ Car-N-Art