Amelia Island Concours moved to Saturday due to weather concerns

The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is being moved to Saturday because of a heavy chance of rain on Sunday.

The announcement was made Thursday morning with details on the exact changes coming soon.

An estimated 30,000 people come to concours events in and around the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island this weekend, culminating in what was to be Sunday’s display of 300-plus rare cars, there’s impact to the island as well.

Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper expects lots of people heading to the concours and many other events. So it will be all hands on deck for his staff with help from the Florida Highway Patrol, Nassau County emergency management officials, plus county and Fernandina Beach fire-rescue personnel and police.

”We are … coordinating security and traffic flow around the activities,” Leeper said earlier, before the date change to Saturday was announced. “Since all event activities will be taking place in a relatively limited space, we ask all those who will be attending to be patient, follow the signs and utilize parking and shuttle rides if possible to not create traffic jams.”

There’s financial impact as well. Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Gil Langley said off-island visitors to concours events last year contributed $20.1 million to the local economy as they stayed an average 3.7 nights. We don’t have an update yet on how those numbers might be impacted by the move to Saturday.

“One of the top classic car events in the nation, the award-winning Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has been an annual tradition here for more than two decades,” Langley said. “In addition to being a stellar showcase for auto enthusiasts, the event showcases Amelia Island, making use of multiple venues, which allows visitors to see and experience more of this beautiful destination during their stay.”

The first Amelia Island Concours in 1996 had 163 classic cars and a few thousand visitors on the 10th and 18th fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island. Now, when Saturday’s concours car show starts, thousands will see collectibles like James Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger,” the 1956 and 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Types and a rare display of streamliners. The free fifth annual Cars and Coffee at the Concours is scheduled to let local owners show off their collectible vehicles. Currently we’re waiting for word on how that part of the event may be impacted.

For concours founder and chairman Bill Warner, whose staff and hundreds of volunteers manage concours events centered around 2017 honoree and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Sr., it’s a tough job.

“It gets harder every year, and even with all the accolades the show has gotten, that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get sponsors and cover the cost. The cost to do the show has gone up exponentially,” Warner said. “ … I would have never guessed it [would get so popular]. There’s good and bad to it. We have spread out beyond the island as far as accommodating people coming into town.”

The concours has drawn in others, like the RM Sotheby’s auctions that partnered with it for years. Four other auction houses have hundreds more classics set for sale this weekend at venues like the Omni resort and Fernandina Beach municipal golf course. And the automotive action continues as Sportscar Vintage Racing Association hosts its second Amelia Island Vintage Gran Prix race March 18 and 19 at the Fernandina Beach Municipal Airport.

There’s also an impact for area charities from the concours’ charitable foundation, which donated more than $3 million to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville and others since it began.

We’ll be updating this story as more details are released about the main Concours event being moved to Saturday.

For information on all concours events and ticket prices, go to ameliaconcours.org.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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