“Freaks,” “weirdos” and generally curious Platte County residents gathered Labor Day weekend to celebrate a nearly indescribable counterculture. On the Platte County Fairgrounds in Tracy, Mo., the Kansas City, Mo.-based Los Punk Rods hosted the 16th annual Greaserama, a punk-rock car show Saturday and Sunday.
Nearly 1,000 entries-strong, Greaserama features DIY vehicles from pre-WWII classics to innovative hot rods that each share a single unique characteristic— the cars are ’64 and older and the trucks are ’72 and older.
Los Punk Rods began Greaserama in 1999 as a way to build a community of like-minded car lovers — one’s who love makeshift vehicles over those mass produced in a factory. Working with era-style hot rods, punk rockers found cheap ways for the common person to enjoy cars, by building off of scrap vehicles.
“(Greaserama) is a celebration of the wonderfully unsophisticated part of American car and bike culture,” says Nathan Thompson, a third-year attendee and a first-year vendor from Olathe, Kan.
After paying the $10 entry fee at the gate, the unaccustomed Greaserama-goer is immediately struck with an intense array of sights and sounds, all with a grungy, dirty feel to them.
The fairgrounds, which typically boasts farm workers, instead features a sea of black clothing, metallic piercings and pinup dresses. Having at least three tattoos seems like a must; in fact, one of the vendors at the yearly festival is a functioning ink parlor, offering tattoos on stage inside of the Platte County Pavilion Building.
“This (expletive) gets crazier every year,” laughs one casually dressed event goer to another.
“It’s a vibe that you can’t really explain until you’ve experienced,” says member Derrick Kurtz of Kansas City, Mo., a.k.a. Punk Rod Derrick. “Once you come, you will come from now on.”
Long-time attendees share the same mindset, Kurtz said, one that enjoys a specific type of music, art and most importantly, car.
“(Greaserama) is a happening,” says Fritz Schenck, one of this year’s featured car lovers, from Belton, Mo. “It’s the typical like-minded thing; it’s a mechanical brotherhood.
“It is a counterculture, car event.”
Schenck likens the event to Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, an art studio that doubled as a party house for everyone from amateur artists to social elites.
As with Warhol’s Factory, art and music are two key components of the punk rock festival. The artwork is displayed throughout the fairgrounds, on clothing, merchandise and cars; but Lily’s Greasy Gallery displays most of the professional work. This year’s carnival sideshow theme produced a wide-range of canvases, many featuring Herman Munster, from the classic sitcom “The Munsters.”
All of the productions have a high shock value to them with images meant to disturb, but also intrigue viewers.
Grunge-style, self-produced bands are performing deafeningly loud music almost nonstop inside of the Dirty Shame Saloon, featuring themes of antigovernment and rebellion.
The 2017 Greaserama is slated for Sept. 2-3 on the fairgrounds and is open to anyone curious enough to take part.