Sometimes it can be tough to tell which draws more excitement at the annual Hot Rods and Rock & Roll extravaganza downtown.

The classic cars that rev attendees’ enthusiasm, or classic rock that steers listeners straight toward the highway of nostalgia?

“The concert crowd seems to get a little bigger every year,” said Rich Anthony, brand manager for show organizer 106.1 The River and the event’s coordinator.

Anthony predicts another crowd of 6,000 to 8,000 during the afternoon and evening Saturday along Washington and Fourth streets downtown. He and others figure that many people have been attending the free car show and concert for a decade or more.

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“Every year, about 6:45 in the evening, I can stand on the stage (in front of The Commons) and look (north) down Washington Street and I can see absolutely no blacktop. Just a crowd of people (for several blocks). It’s crazy.”

The event includes as many as 200 to 500 cars, from the 1920s to today, on display.

Terry Robinholt, president of the Corvette Club of Columbus, has been attending since the inaugural get-together.

“It got off to a great start back then,” Robinholt said. “I think the popularity shows that people like exactly what it offers: a chance to enjoy themselves in an environment where they can come and go as they please.”

Boosting the crowd is the fact that most of the area car clubs invite club chapters from other parts of Indiana to participate, from Indianapolis and beyond.

“We always want to do what we can to invite people to Columbus,” Robinholt said.

Part of the event’s substantial draw also lies in the music of nationally touring classic rock act Rick K and the Allnighters, which has closed the gathering each of the past 10 years, Anthony said. The band leader, known for high- energy performances that frequently lead him into the audience, unwinds behind the wheel of his own 1965 Auburn Galaxy convertible away from the stage.

So his enthusiasm for the atmosphere here is the real deal. Plus, he said in a Republic interview a few years ago that he loves to allow listeners to shift into a different gear for a bit.

“If I can make people forget about their problems for 90 minutes,” the singer said, “then I feel I’ve done my job.”

Hot wheels, hot tunes

What: 19th annual Hot Rods and Rock & Roll car show and concert, featuring up to 500 classic vehicles lining the streets and rock group Rick K and the Allnighters performing.

When: Car show is 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Concert is 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Along Washington Street from Third to Eighths streets.

Food and drink: Available for purchase.

Admission: Free.

Information: 812-372-4448 or theriver1061.com.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.