Bus rally shaping up (nicely) for next month in Indiana

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Bus Rally Evansville rolls into this Ohio River town next month, showcasing what is expected to be the largest fleet of vintage buses ever assembled in North America.

Rally organizers report that as of late last month, upwards of 60 classic, collectible and historic buses had registered for the event, with scores of other owners rushing to get their coaches shaped up to attend the show.

Ultimately, 75 to 100 vintage buses of every sort are expected for the rally.

“Buses are coming from the East and West coasts, as well as Canada,” said event organizer Stan Holter.

The Busboys Collection, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that is thought to own and operate the largest collection of vintage buses in North America, is organizing the three-day event, scheduled for Sept. 22 to 24.

In addition to being the principals of The Busboys Collection, brothers Dan and Stan Holter are motorcoach company owners and operators based in Bloomington and Rochester, Minn.

In addition to the buses, the rally also is expected to attract a large number of spectators from not only the Evansville area but from throughout North America and overseas. Those attending will have an opportunity to see some of the rarest and most-unusual operational buses in North America.

Among buses at the rally will be two from the Los Angeles-based vintage fleet of Greyhound Lines, plus a coach from the Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing, Minn. There also will be several rare coaches from The Busboys Collection.

There is no fee to attend the event.

The focal point of the show – besides the rare buses — will be the former Greyhound Bus Terminal in Evansville.

The 78-year-old bus station is believed to be one of only two surviving examples of the Art Deco architecture adopted by Greyhound for new bus stations in the late 1930s.

The Deco style used for the Greyhound stations is known as Streamline Moderne, or Art Moderne, and features curving forms, long horizontal lines and nautical elements. The Evansville station is faced with distinctive two-tone, sea-blue, porcelain-clad steel panels.

The former terminal is newly renovated. Indiana Landmarks, which spent two years restoring and repurposing the building, helps Indiana communities and individuals rescue endangered landmarks.

As a result of the extensive renovation, which included removing and refurbishing the steel panels, the station appears today as it did nearly 80 years ago, with the exception of some minor signage.

Most of the space in the former Greyhound station, at 222 Sycamore St. near downtown Evansville, has been leased to a regional chain of restaurants, Bru Burger Bar.

The eatery, known for its burgers and extensive menu of beers, has both indoor and outdoor seating. Other food vendors are nearby or will be onsite for the three days of the rally.

The bus show is being conducted not only to acknowledge renovation of the landmark terminal, but also to promote the heritage of the North American bus industry.

“Some of the buses will be ones never seen before by the general public,” Stan Holter said.

“This rally will be the largest gathering of vintage buses ever to be displayed in the U.S., for such a purpose,” he said. “The rally welcomes all vintage buses and converted motorhomes alike, regardless of make or model, which were originally manufactured by a bus builder.”

The rally also will include a variety of vendors selling memorabilia, artifacts and other products related to the bus industry.

There also will be vintage bus rides visiting Evansville landmarks and sights near the terminal.

Those attending the rally will be able to vote for their favorite buses, with trophies awarded in multiple categories recognizing the owners’ preservation efforts.

There will be a luncheon on the final day of the rally to recognize those who brought buses to the rally.

Holter is urging everyone who attends the event to register on the rally website so updates and notices — regarding event activities, including the luncheon — can be sent to those attending.

There is no fee to register or attend. Go to: www.busboyscollection.org and scroll down to the “rally registration” link.

The rally will end with a bus parade through downtown Evansville. It is expected to be the largest parade ever of vintage coaches.

Evansville was picked as the rally sight both because of the restored Greyhound terminal and its central location. It is on Interstate 69, with east-west I-64 nearby.

The city of 120,000 people spreads along a sharp bend in the Ohio River in southeast Indiana. Kentucky is across the river.

The Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Bru Burger are supporting the event. The average daytime high in Evansville on Sept. 22 is 79 degrees and the average low is 57. September is a relatively dry month in southern Indiana.

Evansville has a number of local attractions, including a free “Dream Car” auto museum, a small transportation museum, an operating drive-in movie theater, and the only operational LST (land ship transport) from World War II.

The Busboys have arranged discounted rates at nearby hotels for attendees preferring to stay near the rally site. More information about lodging options, RV sites, and rally events can be found at www.busboyscollection.org.  Or, questions can be emailed to: busboyscollection@gmail.com.

The Busboys Collection started as a hobby of the Holter brothers while operating their companies, Richfield Bus Company and Rochester City Lines. Dan Holter is general manager of Rochester City Lines, while Stan is G.M. of Richfield, which is a member of International Motorcoach Group.

The family also has a bus tour operation, Heartland Bus & Travel, and an automotive restoration service in Rochester. They also have a warehouse full of vintage bus parts they make available to bus restorers.

Their vintage bus collection includes more than 90 buses, including transit and intercity buses, school buses and novelty vehicles. Many of the buses in their collection are either the last-known survivor, or one of the few remaining in existence of that model.

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