This car entered in a prior car show is owned by Joe Davis. [Photo courtesy of John Fogg]

The Grand County Commission considered a special event permit for a new event to take place at the Old Spanish Trail Arena in the fall of 2021. Parriott’s Garage Performance Auto Show aims to bring auto enthusiasts “from all over the vehicle spectrum” and provide an outlet for automotive businesses to promote their parts and services as well as for auto enthusiasts to show off vehicles they’ve built or modified.

Organizers hope to host 300 car entries for the first year, and asked the commission to approve 1,000 participants for the outdoor event. If COVID-19 concerns are further alleviated as the event date nears, the organizers would ask for an increased participant cap up to 3,000.

The Special Events Committee approved the application for the auto show, but in consideration of the size of the event, the potential for it increasing, and COVID-19 concerns, the committee wanted to get approval from the commission as well.

Commissioner Sarah Stock had reservations about approving the new event.

“We’ve been getting bombarded with comments from the public about noise and busyness and busy Main Street,” she said, noting that the application proposes the car show taking place annually, not just once, and that it is slated for fall, a time that is already high season for tourists.

“If the town is already full, hotels already booked and campsites are already taken—putting another car show on the docket would potentially replace more quiet forms of recreators with folks who are coming here for motorized events,” she said.

Commission Chair Mary McGann said she liked seeing that the event was planned at the arena, noting that the annual car show that already exists usually takes place at Swanny Park, causing congestion for Moab residents. She also noted that the existing car show doesn’t generate complaint letters about noise or reckless driving behaviors.

“People seem to really enjoy it. It’s one of the things that a lot of the community comes out for, not just visitors,” she said. “Many residents in Grand County look forward to these auto shows.” According to the Chamber of Commerce, McGann added, car enthusiast visitors tend to be big spenders at shops and restaurants.

Commissioner Jacques Hadler noted that the event organizers are longtime residents of Grand County, and Parriott’s Garage is a longtime local business.

“It’s not a bunch of guys from out of town putting on an event, these are true Moab locals,” he said.

Stock expects that “this is probably very different from the traditional car shows.”

“They call it a ‘modernized’ car show,” she said. She noted that the application includes possible activities like a horsepower demo and a revving contest. Arena Director Angela Book noted that those mini-event ideas were for potential future years, and would not be happening this year. Book praised the thoroughness of the event organizers.

“I have high expectations for this group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing great things from this company,” she said. She also assured the commission that the event would be supervised by a COVID event coordinator who would shut down any inappropriate behavior.

County Attorney Christina Sloan said that as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, the state may decide to retire its risk assessment levels. Grand County has been using those levels to guide participant caps at special events. Sloan encouraged the commission to impose a participant cap untethered to the risk assessment levels.

The commission agreed to approve the special event permit with a limit of 1,000 daily attendees, revving contests prohibited, and with the understanding that the approval is for this year only, with future years to be considered later. The motion passed 6-1, with Stock in opposition.