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Lennox Old Fashioned Fourth of July goes off with a bang

Children in the crowd cool down with the help of a float sponsored by Sioux Steel Company.

From a bright morning, and through a partly cloudy afternoon, the Lennox Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebrations brought a cavalcade of at least 10,000 community members and visitors through town over the weekend.

“I think the most common word of the day was hot, but overall, it was a great weekend,” said Eric Machmuller, with the Lennox Commercial Club.

Festivities for the 39th annual event began with the morning’s Firecracker Road race, and continued into the evening alongside a faithful humidity and steady heat. Throughout the day, visitors were able to enjoy a packed parade, and take a closer look at some finely tuned automotive engineering.

Owners, experts and hobbyists from all over the area showed their vehicles at the Lennox Car Show off Highway 44. The show included two special classes and 31 classes that covered a variety of semi-trucks, pickups, tractors, motorcycles — both foreign and domestic — stock and modified cars from 1900 through present day. A couple oddities came out to join the show, including an armored car from across the pond.

The black 1959 Ferret Scout Car MK2 is of British make. Its owner, Don Cooper, purchased the scout from its previous owner around five years ago after a call from “out of the blue.”

“Golly, I looked at it and it looked like fun,” Cooper said. So he bought it.

The brutal looking machine is valued at roughly $55,000, and spent its operational years patrolling the Berlin Wall, he said. Now, Cooper brings it to car shows, and it made an appearance in the Lennox parade earlier in the day.

Another oddity was from Al Schoffelman. He brought out his prized Ford F-150 with a frame made entirely out of wood — oakwood, to be specific. The Lennox Local hasn’t missed a Lennox car show since 1998, and ran the event until a bump in his schedule forced him to pass the reigns for this year.

Since he wasn’t running the event this year, and ended up getting the holiday off, Schoffelman took it as a chance to show off the finely-tuned machine. A hobbyist woodworker, Schoffelman made the frame himself and rebuilt the entire truck from the ground up over the course of nine years. Though he built it to be an oddity, the Ford 351 Windsor engine under the hood actually works. It pushes out around 275 horsepower.

“It gets up and goes pretty good,” Schoffelman said. “It handles great, but rides like — well, it doesn’t ride very well.”

That may have to do with the seats being made entirely out of wood. Even though he didn’t build it to drive, he’s put 1,992 miles on it.

Schoffelman has showed it other places across the country, most recently in Daytona, Florida. But it spends most of the trips in a trailer.

Unfortunately, Schoffelman wasn’t able to clench the award for people’s choice or best in show.

Dick Busch walked away with people’s choice for his lime-green 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. Best in show was taken by Kirt Flannery of Yankton for his dark-purple 1957 Chevy pickup. His Chevy also took first place in the modified pickup class.

The Chevy was born in Bloomsfield, Nebraska, and has only seen three owners, including Flannery. He purchased it from his wife’s dad 36 years ago and rebuilt it from the ground up over the course of three years.

Flannery isn’t a newbie to the car show circuit, traveling to around eight or 10 events in the area every year. This was his third time at the Lennox Car Show. It’s his second year winning, but getting a trophy has never been his goal.

“I don’t come to win,” he said. “I come to meet nice people. Once you do it long enough, you start seeing the same people and are able to make friends all over the place.”

While plenty of community members and visitors swung through the car show, the parade was on a level of its own.

The crowd of roughly 10,000 people was in high spirits, decked out in patriotic zeal and clustered along the route that looped from Highway 44 along Main Street to First Avenue, then back to the highway on Elm Street.

Lennox Commercial Club member Todd Shuman takes the responsibility of estimating the amount of people who come out to the parade.

He measures the crowd every year by how many popsicles he gives away. One of the best turnouts he saw was around five to six years ago when 11,000 people came through Lennox over the Fourth of July weekend. With COVID, the last two years have been down, he said, but this year was big. He had 8,000 popsicles for this years event, but ran out before the parade had even ended.

“Usually, once the parade turns onto Elm, the crowd starts to dwindle,” said Todd Shuman, member of the Lennox Commercial Club. “But this year the route was packed all the way back to Highway 44.”

Those in attendance saw floats from local Lennox and areawide businesses, as well as South Dakota politicians.

Candy, popsicles, suckers and keychains rained from the floats as children filled bags and clutched their bounty to their chests. The Delaware Reformed Church’s float was a functional yellow by-plane piloted along Main Street by Sandy Poppenga. The Lincoln County 4-H marched an “army of tractors” into town as Don Cooper of Sioux Falls rolled his Ferret Scout Car down Main Street.

With the size of the crowd and the energy of the weekend, you’d think it might take a while to clean up everything and get downtown back in order. But Machmuller said everything was cleaned and sorted out by July 5. Clean up for the event is a responsibility shared by the City Department and the Lennox Commercial Club, he said.


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