ONE of the many great things about the annual Chopped festival, held in the showgrounds of Newstead, Victoria, is that no two shows are ever the same. The cars, the crowd and the bands vary from year to year – and so does the weather.
The 2016 event brought rain, which soon turned to mud. This presented some challenges for the Chopped organising crew, but for everyone else the muddy conditions enhanced the feeling of camaraderie that is a hallmark of this show.
Entrants, punters and volunteers alike pitched in to free bogged cars from the quagmire, shared their firewood, and helped out with mechanical repairs where needed.
While Chopped ramps up in professionalism each year, it is at its core run by a small group of incredibly passionate family and friends, who work super-hard to create something that is unique, safe, and above all, fun. In the process, they’ve created a whole new genre of event and kickstarted a new appreciation for traditional rods, customs and bikes. Before Chopped, the idea of putting on a show for pre-’65 cars built in an arcane style from decades past was unthinkable.
Sticking to that program remains a battle, but to paraphrase JFK, the Chopped crew do it not because it is easy, but because it is hard. And for that, we thank them.
A big part of what makes Chopped work is the band of volunteers who put in to help the event run smoothly. My partner has been doing her bit on the gate for years and loves that she can meet just about everyone who comes through the door, making what has become a fairly large event that much more personal.
I’ve always been too busy with magazine and video stuff, but this time I took a more relaxed approach to the work side of things and helped out, first by pitching in to keep the roadways open and later by doing some time in the scrutineering lines.
And you know what? Despite the fact that I’m still finding mud in various parts of my car, I had the most fun I’ve had at Chopped in years, met a stack of new folks and came away with a new appreciation for what show promoters go through to run a successful and safe event.
Highlights? Being treated to a fancy roast dinner by the Geelong crew; riding on the back of Wolfman’s famous Bedford flatbed truck as various noisy garage rock bashers plied their trade from the tray; and watching Texan rockabilly god The Reverend Horton Heat get into the spirit of things on stage. Of the cars, the most inspiring performance of the weekend came from Ed Radclyffe, who once
again drove his fragile-looking four-banger-powered Model A roadster pick-up down from Canberra, raced the wheels off it – almost literally – and then putted home again. Shane Dale’s ’41 Chev pick-up – almost entirely fabricated from scratch – was my pick of the debut cars, while Steve Costa’s ’57 Chev gasser was the undisputed king of the dirt drags.
The big news for 2017 is that Chopped will be taking this year off so the crew can rest and recuperate after almost a decade of hard work. The event will be back 5-7 October 2018 for its 10th anniversary, which will give everyone struggling to finish their car lots of shed time. Be there! s