MURDO | Dave Geisler comes by his car guy and showman qualities quite honestly.
Geisler inherited his father A.J.’s business acumen in starting and maintaining one of western South Dakota’s most enduring tourist attractions, the Pioneer Auto Show, which has been enticing visitors to stop in the Jones County prairie town of Murdo since 1954.
Dave and rest of the Geisler family will celebrate the Pioneer Auto Show’s 65th anniversary with an all-day party this Saturday that includes a ‘50s costume contest, Elvis impersonator, car show ‘n shine, parade and street dance.
Geisler, naturally, expects a big crowd for the event.
“I think we’ll have well over 2,000 people on Saturday,” he said. “We’re going to have a parking problem.”
It all started with Dave’s father A.J. “Dick” Geisler opening a Phillips 66 gas station in Murdo in 1950. Dick displayed several vintage cars in the parking area to lure travelers to stop and buy gas.
Dick's car collection kept growing and growing, until he and his sons, Dave and John, decided to open the Pioneer Auto Museum in 1954.
Now the collection includes the first automobile Dick displayed, a 1913 Ford Peddler’s Wagon, along with 275 cars, 60 tractors, 60 motorcycles and enough toys, antiques and other automobilia to fill a complex of buildings just off Interstate 90 in Murdo.
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Geisler, 81, has four children, daughters Vivian, Patty, Jennifer and son David. Vivian and David remain involved in the day-to-day operations of the museum.
“We survived 65 years, and we’ve got about eight acres of stuff now,” Geisler said.
Also highlighting the collection are dozens of antique auto and muscle cars from the '50s, '60s and '70s, including the “General Lee” Dodge Charger from the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show and a Pontiac Trans-Am from the Burt Reynold’s movie “Smokey and the Bandit.”
A recent acquisition is a No. 3 stock car driven by the late NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Geisler said.
The '50s costume contest starts at 8 a.m., with the car show from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the museum’s west parking lot. The street dance, featuring the Underground Band from Sioux Falls, is from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Murdo’s Main Street.
Admission to the museum on Saturday reverts to 1954 levels, $1, with entry to the car show ‘n shine and street dance free of charge.
“We’re way out of budget, but we’re going to have some fun,” Geisler said.