EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The largest-ever North American rally of vintage and historic buses will take place here, beginning the first day of fall.
The three-day event, which is being called simply Bus Rally Evansville, is expected to attract between 75 and 100 operational classic, collectible, historic and vintage buses from across the U.S. and Canada.
Buses that are at least 25 years old will be the focus of the rally.
In addition to the buses, the rally also is expected to attract a large contingent of both North American and foreign visitors who will have an opportunity to see some of the rarest and most unusual vintage buses still operating.
The event, running Sept. 22-24, is being organized by The Busboys Collection, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that is thought to own and operate the largest collection of vintage buses in North America.
The principal site of the rally will be the former Greyhound Bus Terminal in Evansville, which has undergone a remarkable two-year restoration.
The 1939 Art Moderne bus station, with its distinctive two-tone, porcelain-enameled steel panels, was restored and repurposed by Indiana Landmarks, which – among other things — helps Indiana communities and individuals rescue endangered landmarks.
The former Evansville Greyhound station is believed to be one of only two surviving examples of the distinctive Art Deco architecture, adopted 80 years ago by Greyhound, with its nautical color scheme, curving form and long, horizontal lines.
The architectural style, which also is known as Streamline Moderne, emerged in the 1930s. As a result of the extensive renovation, which included removing and refurbishing the enameled 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. in downtown Evansville has been leased to a regional chain of restaurants, Bru Burger Bar. The restaurants are known for their gourmet hamburgers and curated beer list.
The eatery opened late last year with a gala ribbon cutting and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Other food vendors are nearby or will be on site for the September rally.
The rally is being conducted not only to acknowledge the renovation of the iconic 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,” said Stan Holter of The Busboys Collection.
“This rally will be the largest gathering of vintage buses ever to be displayed in the U.S., for such a purpose . . . The rally welcomes all vintage buses and converted motorhomes alike, regardless of make or model, that were originally manufactured by a bus builder,” Holter said.
The agenda for the rally is primarily focused on the gathering of vintage buses for public display, but it also will include a variety of vendors selling industry-related memorabilia, artifacts and other products.
The rally will offer vintage bus rides, visiting Evansville landmarks and sights near the terminal.
Evansville, a city of about 120,000 people, spreads along a sharp bend in the Ohio River in southwest Indiana. Kentucky is right across the river from the city.
The central, heartland-of-America location of Evansville, which is on Interstate 69, is one reason the rally is expected to attract a large number of buses. The nearest east-west interstate is I-64.
Those attending the rally will be able to vote for their favorite buses, with trophies awarded in multiple categories to recognize the owners’ preservation efforts.
The rally will end with a bus parade through downtown Evansville. Because so many buses are anticipated for the event, the parade is expected to be the longest ever of its kind.
Evansville has a large 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 fame.
The Busboys have arranged discounted rates at nearby hotels for attendees preferring to stay near the rally site. More information about other lodging options, RV sites and rally information can be found at www.busboyscollection.org. Or, questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The organizers and hosts for Bus Rally Evansville are Stan and Dan Holter, who also are the principals of The Busboys Collection.
The Holters are general managers of private bus companies that trace their roots to the brothers’ parents, George and Marilyn Holter. The senior Holters started their bus operation nearly 60 years ago.
The family’s history and experience of owning and operating multiple bus businesses appears to have imbued Dan and Stan Holter with an appreciation for and desire to preserve their industry’s heritage.
The Busboys Collection started as a hobby of the Holter boys while operating their Minnesota 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, Minn. In addition, they have a warehouse full of vintage bus parts that have rescued many bus restorers.
“We help people preserve buses to the extent we can,” Stan Holter said.
The Busboys’ preservation and collection endeavors are aimed at enabling individuals to experience the history of bus transportation by coming in contact with makes and models produced by many of North America’s bus makers, past and present.
Their vintage collection is comprised of more than 90 buses, including transit (city) and intercity (over-the-road) buses, school buses and novelty vehicles. The oldest Busboys’ buses are from the 1930s.
“Many of the buses in the collection are either the last-known survivor, or one of the few remaining in existence of that model,” Holter said.
“Kenworth, REO, MACK, Flxible and Aerocoach are among the rarest manufacturers residing in the collection.”
The Busboys’ mission is the preservation, restoration and continued operation of historic buses, with many of their coaches traveling to various venues so they can be shared with the public.
The acquisition and collection of industry artifacts and memorabilia is another aspect of their collective efforts designed to preserve materials for the education, appreciation and enjoyment of the public.
“The goal is to preserve yesterday’s history for tomorrow’s generations, with the hope of possibly becoming an operating bus museum with a permanent, independent site to display our buses, memorabilia and library to the public and for research,” Holter said.
As a step toward that goal, the Busboys have established a temporary museum within the facilities of their parents’ original location in Bloomington, Minn.
The nascent museum, at 9237 Grand Ave. South in Bloomington, is open “as a free venue for all to enjoy.”
In addition to their budding museum, the Holters also are major supporters of the Minnesota Transportation Museum in Saint Paul, where Stan Holter is superintendent of the classic bus division.