Fort Mill Times

What's that roar? Fort Mill Thunder's coming!

Want to check out some vintage cars? Perhaps the late Col. Elliott White Springs' Rolls Royce from the 1930s?

Have a penchant for Fort Mill history? Want to learn about the town's past?

Then stop by downtown Fort Mill this Saturday during Fort Mill Thunder, the second annual car show sponsored by Move Fort Mill Forward that kicks off at 10 a.m. on White Street.

"It's not your ordinary car show," Elizabeth Ford of Move Fort Mill Forward said. "It has something for everyone no matter the age."

The family-friendly event showcases vintage automobiles in 125 different categories. The lineup also will offer a kiddie zone, live music, craft and food vendors, plus appearances by world champion pizza twirler Siler Chapman and the Sweet Union Roller Girls.

But the event will be more than entertainment: It also will be a classroom bringing Fort Mill's rich history to life.

"People will learn why Confederate Park is here and what [each] monument represents as well as hear history from people on the bandstand chats," Ford said.

Part of the history attests to when downtown Fort Mill was buzzing with business and shoppers alike.

"A lot of people don't realize that [downtown] Fort Mill was once the place to shop in the county," she said.

"For years, all the stores plus the bank would stay open Friday and Saturday night for shopping."

That yielded foot traffic for Fort Mill businesses, she said.

"From horse and buggy days on, (downtown) Fort Mill was the place to shop," Ford said. "It was like a little mall. You had clothing and grocery stores. There were doctors, dentists, lawyers -- everything you could want was right here on this little hill."

Mobility and shopping malls pulled people away from downtown businesses. But Fort Mill Thunder can be the beacon to pull customers and potential new business owners back to downtown Fort Mill, said Wink Rea, president of Move Fort Mill Forward.

"The ultimate goal is to bring increased exposure to the downtown historic area with the hope that additional businesses will look at Fort Mill in establishing a new businesses in our downtown area."

An evolution is on the way, he said.

"Now, we're beginning to see a return of the past, where businesses are looking at coming back to the core of downtown Fort Mill," Rea said. "Move Fort Mill Forward wants to help facilitate that change.

"There's no reason why downtown Fort Mill can't be similar to Market Street in the Baxter community," he added.

And Fort Mill Thunder plus other Move Fort Mill Forward events will pave the way.

Car show registration will continue through Saturday morning. The entry fee is $25 per vehicle. Proceeds benefit the group's efforts to bring a Fort Mill history museum to the downtown area.

If you are interested in entering your car, call Wink Rea at 547-1002 or Steve Koss at 803-285-6511 or visit www.movefort millforward.com.

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