A few months later, Dannie invited friends and family to his shop on the north side of Ottawa to discuss having a car show—and the Over the Road Gang car club was born. (If anyone out there has a complete list of the original members, we would love to have a copy!)
The first Ol’ Marais Rod and Custom Show was held in Ottawa’s beautiful Forest Park in September of 1986. There were approximately 150 participants at the first show. I wonder if any of the original members envisioned that 30 years later, nearly 2,000 vehicles would be driving through the Forest Park gates to attend what is now called the Ol’ Marais River Run. On Oct. 27, 1995, the club was provided Articles of Incorporation, which granted us 501(c)(3) non-profit status.
Our club has worked hard to make our car show one that people truly want to come back to. Proof of our success is seen every year that our participant numbers increase. We are the only event in Franklin County that fills every motel within a 35-mile radius. The businesses in our city and county have come to rely on our show weekend as being one of the most profitable all year. Forest Park is a beautiful place to have a car show. There are shade trees throughout the entire grassy park.
Our Back to the 60’s Cruise Night is held with help from the city, county, and state when we close off ten blocks of 59 Highway for the evening. The street is closed to all traffic EXCEPT street rods. It is truly an event to behold. Thousands of spectators show up on Saturday evening to see the vehicles in motion. We consider our free admission for spectators a way to say “thank you” to our community for allowing us to share our town with rod run enthusiasts from all over the midwest.