14th annual Ruritan Smithfield car show

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Bullet nose: 1951 Studebaker Champion
Ben Franklin's not sure what to think about car show on usually quiet main street of Smithfield, Virginia| Larry Edsall photos
Ben Franklin’s not sure what to think about car show on usually quiet main street of Smithfield, Virginia| Larry Edsall photos

Smithfield, Virginia, may be most widely known for the ham it processes, but its history dates to the early British exploration of the New World. Those who in 1607 settled the Jamestown colony sailed up the wide James River past the area where, just a year later, Capt. John Smith traded beads for 30 bushels of corn to help feed the starving colonists.

But it was a different Smith, Arthur Smith IV, who gave his name to the town he founded in 1752 by subdividing farmland. He plotted out four streets and 72 lots for homes and businesses just inland from the point where the Pagan River adds its flow very near the mouth of the James River.

At some point, natives would show newcomers how they used smoke to cure meat. Fast forward a couple of century and a half and Smithfield would become world-famous for the meat — ham and bacon — from hogs fattened up on locally grown peanuts.

Also part of the local history is the Ruritan Club, started in the late 1920s just a few miles south of Smithfield by those who sought a way to bring farmers and small-town city merchants together for local community service projects. According to the Ruritan club website, the name was suggested by Daisy Nurney, a reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot newspaper, who combined the Latin words for open or rural country (Ruri) and for small town (Tan).

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Fast forward again, to the early 21st Century, and Smithfield chapter of Ruritan stages a car show in the city’s historic business district. Our Eye Candy gallery shows some of the cars that took part in the 14th annual such show in October 2015.

Photos by Larry Edsall

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.