October in Winnsboro, Texas, it’s the place you want to be, especially if you love model A Fords. The town is best known for its Autumn Trail tour and festival. I experienced my first Autumn Trails tour this year! You can bet that I have already made my reservations for next year.
Members of the AACCA headed to Texas on Friday October 22, 2004. Most folks had made reservations the year before. Winnsboro is in a small, isolated area so be sure to make your reservations early so that you can find a place to stay. Model A Ford clubs from as far away as the San Antonio area come out for this annual event.
This event was started in 1958 by a man they like to call Uncle Bob. It has grown into a great event and the town goes all out to support it. We arrived around 2:00 p.m. and unloaded our cars. Yes, that’s right, we did it the easy way, we used our trailers. We got in the cars and headed to the Autumn Trails office to pick up our packets and get some information about the activities that they had planned for the weekend.
Our next stop was out to a swap meet / flea market at the fair grounds. We weren’t in the need of much from the swap meet but did manage to spend a dollar or two before we left. We went back to the motel appropriately named the “Trails Inn” to rest a bit before the night’s activities.
Around 5:30 you could hear the Ahh-oooga’s sounding and the smooth sounds of those little Model A engines warming up for a trip out to Uncle Bob’s barn for dinner. It is a sight to see, all those early Ford automobiles parked at a motel. There were more than a few that drove them in from as far away as Houston! It sure makes you wonder, how they used to travel with all the kids and the luggage in one of these mechanical wonders. This is a great family event and the families were out in full force. You saw the old Woodies; the first SUV, with the canvas flaps loaded down with dad, mom, three or four of the kids with grandma and grandpa to boot.
We head to the country in search of a barn owned by Uncle Bob, the man that started it all. Uncle Bob is still alive and well. His family takes care of the cooking now, while he does the mingling and tire kicking with the guest and fellow Model A Ford folks. Hay bales line the entrance to the barn as well as Model A’s lining the road to the barn. People were waiting in line and signing the guest book to enter the barn for a free meal (donations accepted and appreciated) of homemade stew with cornbread and lots of different desserts. After your meal, you have the chance to fellowship with other vintage car lovers from the surrounding states. The Dallas Model A club really comes out for this event as well as a newer club the Cedar Creek Club. Many of the Dallas folks are very involved with the Model A Ford Club of America better know as MAFCA.
I happened to be the lucky one that was driving the car that everyone seemed most interested in. It is a 1928 Model A Roadster that is a very early car; built, I believe in February of 1928. This car is owned by my uncle, Norman Hanna. Norman recently purchased this car from a man in Louisiana. The car has been a dream of his for a long time. He was very proud to be the owner of such a rare find. The Texas clubs were all over it, admiring all the original parts. The fact that it has many different features that the later cars don’t come with seemed to fascinate the crowd. It was also my first time to drive a Model A for any distance. That may have been what they were staring at too!
The next morning started early with another free meal at the local Masonic lodge. This is their annual scholarship fund pancake breakfast (donations appreciated once again). At 9:00 it is time to line up for a huge procession into town. When I say huge, I mean huge. Over 240 cars, many Model A’s but others were mixed in, mostly Fords it seemed. They were stretched out for miles down the highway. It was an amazing sight to behold all those cars, different colors and sounds. People were lined up for miles just to watch this big event for such a small town. After you make your way through town, they block the streets off and all the cars park 4 to 5 across for about two city blocks. You leave your car parked awhile to give the people a chance to check out your ride. Then the fun starts! The streets are cleared for the Model A and T car games. Yes we did participate! I didn’t even have trouble getting my ride cranked. This lasts a few hours, but for those that don’t want to participate in the games the town is full of some great little shops and restaurants and a few historic markers. What Texas town doesn’t have a marker for a gun fight or two!
Saturday night is the Autumn Trails Banquet which consists of good food, fellowship and awards with a song or two for good measure. This lasts a few hours, but is another chance to get together to compare notes about each others cars. It’s also a photo opportunity if you missed a favorite car earlier in the day. They also give away some wonderful door prizes and money!
Sunday morning is what it’s all about! At 9:00 a.m. the cars start lining up in front of the “Trails Inn”. This year we had about 50 or so cars for the Sunday morning trail ride. This ride takes place on some of the most beautiful country back roads. I do mean back roads, when I talk about this. The trees are hanging over the roads and the cows are standing in the pasture looking at all the funny little cars going by. It’s a beautiful Sunday morning sight. The weather is perfect with a brisk breeze and sun gleaming through the orange and golden leaves. We even had a little steam to cross over. Driving a Model A through the country, followed by a line of “Henry’s little wonders”, gives you the feeling that it doesn’t get any better than this. Winnsboro is the perfect place to be on a beautiful autumn morning in October. I highly recommend the trip!