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By Huwmanbeing [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsNewport, In. — The 51st Annual Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb is scheduled for October 5, 6 & 7 as the Newport Lions Club prepares for the annual gathering of antique auto enthusiasts. Hoping to stage another record-setting festival, the Lions will hold the event over the famous 1800-foot-long, 140-foot-high Newport Hill, once a proving ground for early automobile designs.Nearly 300 cars are expected to compete in 31 classes in timed runs over the hill, while some 500 show cars, street rods and street machines are judged alongside classic antique vehicles in nine classes for trophies. Newest additions to the competition are three antique motorcycle classes, limited to side-valve models 1953 and older and grouped by engine displacement.Among early registered competitors is a very rare 1919 Stanley Steamer Touring Car. The last Stanley to run the hill a few years back was driven by company founder E.F. Stanley’s grand-daughter.Practice runs will be held from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday; and from 8 to 10 a.m. Sunday. Opening ceremonies will begin at 10:30 a.m. Sunday with competition runs starting at 11 a.m.This year’s the festival weekend will begin Friday morning, October 5 as the Flea Market and food concession stands will open all day. That night will feature the “Cruise At The Bottom” cruise-in and a street dance. Also featured Friday will be the annual Gospel Music Jamboree at the Newport Methodist Church, featuring Southern Gospel recording artists The Lesters from St. Louis, Missouri.With the opening of the hill for practice runs at 8 a.m. Saturday, some 300 Flea Market and Swap Meet booths will be open for business, as well as numerous food concessions around the courthouse square. The Lions Club’s pork barbeque will also begin serving Saturday’s helping of hogs cooked for the annual feed. The Big Wheel Races for kids age 3-8 will also be held at noon Saturday, with registration at 11:30 a.m. A Pretty Baby Contest will also be judged at 2 p.m., with prizes presented to the winners following the close of practice runs. Shortly afterward, the annual parade will wind its way through the streets of Newport.The relocation of the Collector Car and Automobilia Auction last year proved successful and it will be held on the Main Street Starting Line following the parade. “Dancing With The Cars, a Cruise-In and Street Dance are scheduled for Saturday evening and the day will be capped off with a huge fireworks display at dusk.The festival will conclude with a giant prize drawing Sunday afternoon, including the Lions Club’s restored raffle vehicle, a 1939 Buick Series 40 Special four-door sedan with the famed Buick Straight-Eight power plant.Special edition souvenirs will be available, including wool pennants, similar to ones sold at the first Lions Club Hill Climb 51 years ago; 2019 Hill Climb photo calendars with more than 100 pictures of cars and festivities; and limited edition steel license plates. Competition drivers will receive a special edition collector hat pin and extras will also be for sale, along with shirts, hats and sweatshirts. Copies of two official history books on the Hill Climb, covering the first Newport Hill Climb in 1909 until today, will be on sale throughout the weekend, along with various other souvenir offerings.The Newport Hill Climb likely began as an “innocent” challenge between two owners of those new-fangled automobiles. While early autos had trouble making it up the crest of the hill, soon topping the 140-foot plus hilltop became common, but still a great struggle on the early gasoline engines. Then it wasn’t just enough to top the hill; you had to be the fastest to climb it.The first Hill Climb was held in 1909 and organized by the businessmen of Newport as a way to capitalize on the interest in climbing the hill. Hill Climbing contests were becoming more common place, and by 1915 the “newness” had worn off, and board-track and other circular racing forms were becoming more popular. The event was rekindled as an antique auto hill climb in the 1960’s and the Lions Club took over sponsorship in 1968.Lions Clubs are an international service organization, which sponsor such projects as the Leader Dog School for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan, cancer research and treatment facilities at the Indiana University Medical Center, eye glass and hearing aid recycling projects, and diabetes awareness programs. Local Lions Clubs also support various other groups and organizations in their home communities.More information on the Newport Antique Auto Hill Climb is available from the Newport Lions Club, Box 398, Newport, IN, 47966, or by calling 765-492-4220. Information is also available on the internet at www.newporthillclimb.com.