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NASCAR legend Richard Petty visits Ridgely Car Show

The sixth annual Ridgely Pharmacy and Ice Cream Parlor Car and Motorcycle Show set a record Sunday with 846 registered cars and more than 15,000 people visiting the small Caroline County town on a bright fall day.

The charity car show featured an appearance by NASCAR legend Richard Petty who signed autographs and met with fans in front of the Ridgely Pharmacy and Ice Cream Parlor on Belle Street. The visit marked Petty’s third trip to downtown Ridgely for the car show.

Petty was joined by “My Classic Car” host Dennis Gage who filmed a feature episode about the car show for his television series. Racing personality Miss Linda Vaughn “Miss Hurst," actor Sonny Shroyer, who played Enos on the “Dukes of Hazzard," and actor Rick Hurst, who played Cletus on the "Dukes of Hazzard," also signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans.

“We are honored to have Richard Petty, Dennis Gage, Linda Vaughn and Sonny Shroyer at the car show,” said Ridgely Car Show Organizer Brenda Walls. “We are proud to raise money for Richard’s charities and all the great causes they support. Richard and the other stars visiting Ridgely helps out so many other local charities as well. We appreciate their support.

“It is such a thrill to watch people get to meet Richard Petty, and how he interacts with the fans,” she said. “This is his third year visiting the car show, and we are just honored to have him.”

Organizers handed out wristbands at 6 a.m. Sunday to meet Petty. He arrived at about 10:30 a.m. in a Plymouth Superbird with an escort from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and a ride from Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds.

Petty greeted fans and signed autographs for about two hours, and then took a tour around the car show along Belle and Railroad streets.

The opportunity to bring Petty to the show came about when organizers selected the Petty Family Foundation as the event’s charity in 2013. The foundation serves the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, N.C., a haven for children stricken with serious illness and injury. The show also benefits the Ridgely Car Show Foundation nonprofit organization, which supports local charities, including Pink Cares of the Eastern Shore, Md. and Caroline Hospice Foundation.

The 2013 show raised $30,243 for the Petty Family Foundation, while the 2014 show raised $37,243. While he was scheduled to appear at the 2015 show, severe weather and historic flooding in North Carolina kept Petty from making the trip to Ridgely. Even though rain fell last year, the event raised more than $30,000. A total amount raised at the 2016 car show has not been determined.

“The car show turned out amazing,” Walls said. “I’m totally overwhelmed by the support from the community and the amount of people who chose to come to Ridgely today. “We had Dennis Gage as a new guest this year,” she said. “He is a blast to be around, and we are honored he filmed his television show here at the car show. “I just want to thank everyone on staff and all of the volunteers who helped put this car show together,” she said. “We could not have done it without them. We had so many people step up to help us this year. “We want to give a special thanks to the police departments in Ridgely, Denton, Federalsburg and Greensboro, along with the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office and Worcester County Sheriff’s Office for all they have done to help with the car show,” she said. “They are all phenomenal with all the logistical work they did before, during and after the car show. Many came in and volunteered their time.”

The car show featured all years, makes and models of cars, trucks and motorcycles in dozens of classes. There were more than 90 trophies presented, including some unique trophies for specific classes.

The event also will feature live music, local vendors and activities for all ages. Federalsburg’s Tallon Deneau won the singing competition. Ridgely Town Commissioner Anthony Casey estimated more than 15,000 people visited Ridgely for the car show.

“Thank you to Brenda Walls and everyone on the Ridgely Car show Foundation for making this happen,” he said. “The town of Ridgely really benefits from this great event. “This is a very positive event for everyone locally,” he said. “There are so many people that benefit from it from fire departments to Little League baseball and softball teams. Having everyone from the east coast and from around the country to show up in our little town and us show them what we can put on is great.”

Follow Caroline/Dorchester Editor Dustin Holt on Twitter @Dustin_StarDem.

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