It's about time to kick the tires on the 2013 Chautauqua Assembly this weekend.

This year's subject is one that everybody in the country can relate to: the automobile.

“Car Crazy: An American Love Affair” comes to town this weekend and features fun and a great glimpse at one of history's greatest inventions for the entire family.

The event officially begins with a screening of Disney's “Cars” in Getzendaner Park at 8 p.m. Friday. But if you want to get into the spirit of the event earlier than that, Hank Fincken will portray Henry Ford at the Ellis County Museum at noon Friday.

Fincken is an actor and scholar who will bring to life the character of Ford. Fincken has spent the last 20 years developing and portraying historical figures for performances all across the country.

That will just be a test drive for what local car enthusiasts will get to experience Saturday.

Car-related demonstrations begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Getzendaner Park and the opening ceremonies for the event start at noon with a keynote speech from Dr. Ed Seymour of the Texas Transportation Institute. Seymour's role at TTI is to figure out the future of transportation needs for Texans and will share his discoveries, predictions and surprises for next-generation cars with a speech titled “Road to the Future: Texas Transportation Tomorrow.”

Following the speech, the next three hours will be spent with presentations in both the park's auditorium and tent.

The auditorium's presentations begin at 1 p.m. with a debate called “Self-driving cars will be good for society.”

The Texas A&M University Speech and Debate Team will bring civil discourse to the Chautauqua as they discuss whether or not self-driving cars will be good for the future. The team competes at a national level and will consist of two teams working together to prepare a case arguing for and against the topic.

At 2 p.m. in the auditorium, the Waxahachie Daily Light's own Neal White will discuss “Where Are Alternative Fuels Taking Us?” White has been covering the automotive industry and writing reviews for more than 20 years for the Texas Auto Writers Association. He writes a weekly car review column in the Daily Light that is also syndicated to more than 100 reaching a combined circulation of more than two million.

At 3 p.m. in the auditorium, University of North Texas music professor Thomas Sovik will look at “America's Music Through the Windshield of Detroit.” You will travel with Sovik through the years as you discover the music of the American car culture. You can also get a sample of his upcoming book.

The tent's presentations will also start at 1 p.m. with a look at the “Ten Greatest Car Scenes in Movie History.” Texas Monthly film critic Christopher Kelly will reveal his choices for the greatest car scenes in cinema over the past century.

At 2 p.m. in the tent, University of North Texas students and their professor Diana Mason will show “Chemistry in Action: The Power of Combustion!” The award winning chemist and her students will show fun and surprising demonstrations to help educate the crowd.

At 3 p.m. in the tent, historian and museum curator Robert Haynes, a Detroit native, will discuss cars and race with his presentation “Negros and Cadillacs: An American Folktale.” Haynes works at the Plano Interurban Rail Museum and has spoken at the Chautauqua numerous times in the past. His talk will discuss the emigration of many African Americans from the south to work on assembly lines in the north and the cars they sought and bought.

After all of the presentations, Fincken will have a longer presentation as Henry Ford for the community at 4 p.m.

The event will conclude with a presentation of “Taffeta Memories” by the Waxahachie Community Theater.

Other thinks you can see in the park are display vehicles from Midlothian Classic Wheels and Dallas Model A Club. Carl's Custom Cars in Red Oak will also bring cars they are working on. The Texas State Technical College Automotive Department will bring a demo Viper.

Contact Billy at or call 469-517-1454.