What is the Rat Fink Reunion?
Rat Fink was (and is) a counter culture cartoon character designed by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth who was a custom hot rod designer, builder and artist. The Rat Fink is a dark, rebellious character who symbolized that being different, “weird”, is not only okay, but cool. The movement and the symbol date back to the 1960s which was a time of great cultural change and upheaval in America and across the world. The reunion is simply a celebration of the life and creations of Ed Roth, and everything that the character Rat Fink represents. Please don’t take this character too seriously. At first glance, is quite a disgusting creature. But remember the symbolism. This is just about young people, and now older people, expressing their creative individuality through their vehicles.
This cartoon character was a huge hit with teenagers of the day, and it can be compared with similar counterculture symbols of our time such as girls with pink hair, body piercings, and tattoos. It simply represents the fact that individuality and nonconformity are not bad, but are to be embraced and celebrated. Ed Roth’s manifestation of this concept of “different is good” was of course the hot rod.
In the later 1940s through the earlier 1960s hot rodding was considered to be quite rebellious, so the Rat Fink became the symbol of the movement. In his later years, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth moved to a small town in central Utah, Manti. The Rat Fink Reunion is hosted by his surviving family. The highlight of the festival is the annual car show in the park in Manti. The show draws participants from all over the United States, but the majority of the cars are from Utah. The show is a celebration of all things related to the automobile. It features vehicles of all genres from Model A’s to modern American muscle cars.
Of course, however, the stars of the show are the Rat Rods. Describing a Rat Rod is difficult because everyone is different. In general it is a vehicle that has been cobbled together from whatever parts were available and is generally left in a fairly decrepit external condition. Every one is different, and every one represents the creative soul of its builder. Sometimes these “junk heaps” end up being worth over six figures and feature incredible creative art and designs. Some of the engines have tens of thousands dollars worth of technology poured into them.
This car show is really a living history and cultural event. It’s much more than a car show as it features a live band, a broad array of music, a lot of vendors that are selling everything from Rat Fink accessories to car accessories to clothing and jewelry to many other unique personal items. There are always many great food vendors, and it’s impossible to walk around the show without developing a huge appetite. The Rat Fink Reunion is a living embodiment of the individualism that makes America so unique. The show is really just more of a party and celebration of America and our diversity which makes this country so great. Even if you’re not into cars, just sit down and listen to the music and enjoy the people watching. There’s just nothing like sitting in the shade under a big tree listening to great music with a nice cold drink.
So, if you didn’t make it, here is my photo tour of the 2017 Rat Fink Reunion. I hope you enjoy the show.