Delaware city officials are looking for a new group to keep the tradition of a downtown car show alive after learning the annual Blast from the Past will not return next year.

Delaware city officials are looking for a new group to keep the tradition of a downtown car show alive after learning the annual Blast from the Past will not return next year.

The Vintage Auto Club of Delaware announced last week the group will not host Blast from the Past in the city's downtown in 2017. This year's show was held July 23.

Jim Clements, chairman of the event's organizing committee, said it was a "very difficult decision" to end the show's run downtown. He said club members did not want to see the quality of the show deteriorate as its membership base ages.

"We would love for it to run forever, but we just kind of see the handwriting on the wall as far as it getting tougher for us every year," he said.

The annual car show started on public land near the city's water plant in 1993. After a short time at that site and the Delaware Area Career Center's southern campus, the show moved to downtown Delaware in 2001.

Delaware spokesman Lee Yoakum said city officials and residents will miss the annual show, which brought thousands of people to downtown Delaware every year.

"We're saddened with the news (but) we understand the reasons why the club has made the decisions it has," he said.

Yoakum said the city will keep the third Saturday in July reserved "just in case they change their mind."

Sean Hughes, the city's economic development director, said he's confident the city can find another group to run a downtown show if necessary.

"There's a lot of different car clubs out there," he said. "There's new car shows being started every year."

Hughes said he thinks a number of clubs would be interested in building on the success the Vintage Auto Club achieved with Blast from the Past. He said the city has not conducted a study of Blast from the Past's economic impact, but he said downtown-area business owners have told him the show drives additional sales.

Clements said the show reached its peak in 2015 when about 750 cars were on display. Yoakum said the event draws "easily 10,000 people" downtown in an average year.

Clements said the show experienced a dropoff in attendance and participation this year, which he blamed on the hot weather. He said the decline did not lead to the cancellation of the event, adding the number of participants grew almost every year.

Clements said the Vintage Auto Club of Delaware may host a Blast from the Past car show at a smaller venue next year. He said he hopes another group steps up to continue the tradition of hosting a show downtown.

"If someone else wanted to do it, we would sure support it," he said.

Yoakum said the city is open to the idea of assisting another organization with a show.

"We would be happy to talk with another auto club that might want to step forward and help put on a car show," he said.

Clements said the city, Ohio Wesleyan University and sponsors deserve credit for giving the show room to grow in downtown Delaware.

Yoakum said the "tremendously dedicated group of volunteers" from the Vintage Auto Club of Delaware deserves almost all of the kudos for overseeing one of the city's "best-organized" events.

"The club did a great job of each year growing the event and still being able to manage it in a way that it's safe and successful," he said.

Clements said the people he's told about the show's end so far have reacted with "disappointment and disbelief."

"It's kind of hard on us as club members," he said.

Clements said the group will continue to raise money for OhioHealth Hospice in Delaware. The club has donated more than $265,000 to support hospice care since 1993.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick