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Jessica Ballou, Published March 31 2012

Toppers Car Show kicks it up a few notches

If you go

What: 54th annual Rod and Custom Car Show

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today

Where: Veterans Memorial Arena, West Fargo

Info: Admission $10 per person

WEST FARGO – There’s something new for the 12,000 people expected to attend the 54th annual Toppers Car Show this weekend at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Entertainment is being provided by the Shadows, considered by many to be one of the best tribute bands in the country. The car show ends today, with the Shadows performing from noon to 3 p.m., said show chairman Rich Barnes.

Band member Dick Dunkirk was one of the original members of Bobby Vee and the Shadows, the band that filled in after Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959.

The car show is bigger than ever this year, with 120 cars and 80 vendor slots, Barnes said.

“There’s just about something for everybody,” he said.

Cars, trucks and motorcycles of all different makes, models, years and colors filled the center of both arenas, while a variety of vendors lined the walls.

Melissa Bloom and her husband, Jeffrey, have attended the car show for 15 years, but this is their first year as vendors. They are promoting his company, Flash Back Auto Trim Shop in Fargo.

“Not a lot of people do this kind of work around here,” Melissa Bloom said of her husband’s company, which specializes in auto trim polishing and restoration, among other things.

Even if attendees aren’t fans of classic cars, they were sure to get a kick out of the decorations set up near many of the vehicles that tell a story.

One vehicle attracting a lot of attention was a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner, which included a life-size Roadrunner made out of balloons and a Wile E. Coyote figurine sitting on a rocket of dynamite next to the car.

A 1937 Lincoln Zephyr Woodie, the car of the year from Minnesota, was another of the main attractions, featuring a figurine of Woody from “Toy Story” in the back window.

Another interesting attraction was a display of 14 Mercury cars from the 1950s detailed to each owner’s specifications.

Stan Orness coordinated the Mercury display, which includes cars from North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. He’s been involved with several car shows over the years, including Toppers for the last 20 years.

This bill would make it “explicitly clear” that this information should be available to the public, said Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville, who serves on the House data practices subcommittee.

“This is one of the biggest things for sunshine and accountability issues in a long time,” said Rich Neumeister, who tracks data practices and privacy issues at the Capitol. “If we can get that through that would be fantastic.” Another proposal would repeal a 2009 law and make Department of Natural Resources license information public again. It would include information about applications for hunting and fishing licenses, snowmobile and cross-country ski passes and others.

“I do think we will have some public dissemination of that information,” Holberg said of the DNR bill. “Where that lands is still unclear.” Holberg also predicted a number of smaller data practices bills will be approved.

Included in those bills could be one that would require the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, an economic development agency, to make more information public, such as loan and investment data. Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, has been working on the bill.

Many data practices proposals still are in various stages of the committee process, while others await floor discussions and votes.

“With the rush of the session, data practices bills sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve,” Holberg said.

Some likely will not be approved this year, she predicted, including one that had privacy and transparency advocates worried.

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, proposed creating a new category for data allowing law enforcement to keep certain information private without deeming a case an active criminal investigation.

Cornish said the change would not allow law enforcement to collect more information than it does now. It would keep some information private while situations are investigated.

Opponents said the provision could allow for data to be recorded or used against an individual without his or her knowledge of its existence.

A number of data practices and privacy issues are discussed by lawmakers every year, Holberg said. While it depends on the information being sought, “the general trend is more sunshine in terms of government information and less sunshine on personal information,” she said.

“In probably the last five years we have seen major breakthroughs in sunshine and accountability issues,” Neumeister agreed.

But Anfinson said Minnesota’s data practices policies still are confusing and cause people to err on the side of keeping information private. There are stiff penalties for wrongfully revealing information, but not for failing to provide it, he said.

“The result of that imbalance is caution, and rightfully so,” he said.

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Danielle Nordine reports for Forum Communications Co.