Lake Bluff Concours d’Elegance of Southwest Michigan to take a hiatus

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Photo courtesy Lake Bluff Concours.

After a couple name changes and one leadership change over the last dozen years, the Lake Bluff Concours of Southwest Michigan will go on hiatus as its organizers search for a new director and venue.

Anne Odden, who has served as chair of the Lake Bluff Concours for the last three years alongside event founder Dar Davis, said a number of factors influenced the decision to suspend the show for at least the next year, not the least of which was her decision to step down from the position. That decision came about, she said, due to work demands from her realty business in addition to Davis’s resignation from the concours following this year’s event.

“Without Dar, the enthusiasm on my end dwindles,” Odden said, noting that Davis was the “real car expert” between the two of them.

Davis has since signed on to coordinate a new concours to take place the same weekend at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana, just over the state line from St. Joseph, the home of the Lake Bluff Concours.

“It just caught up with me,” Davis said, “and I haven’t been able to find anybody to take it over.”

Odden said the city of St. Joseph has also changed its policies, looking to cut down on the number of events that require closing down city streets, as the Lake Bluff Concours has. However, that does not preclude the possibility that a concours will return to the area in 2019 at the earliest, she said. “We just have no location in mind – that’s the big unknown.”

Originally the Krasl Art Center Concours, the concours kept that name from 2005 through 2011, when it cut ties with the Krasl and became the Concours d’Elegance of Southwest Michigan. Since Odden took the reins of the concours in 2014, it has appended the name of its location – Lake Bluff Park, overseeing Lake Michigan – to the name of the concours.

One factor Odden said did not influence the decision is the vast number of concours events across the country, among them the nearby Geneva Concours d’Elegance, Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance and the Concours d’Elegance of America. “There’s no competition,” she said, noting the relationship the concours enjoys with the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan. “We’re well positioned, and everybody knows us.”

Davis said plenty of other entities in the St. Joseph area have expressed interest in taking over the concours, “but the problem comes when they think that I come with the show.”

The Studebaker Museum’s concours is slated to take place over the same weekend in August that the Lake Bluff Concours took place. Any future Southwest Michigan concours events will likely take place over the second weekend in September, Odden said.

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