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Rat Fink Reunion is coming back bigger than ever in Manti

Ed Roth's creation "Stealth 2000" on display at the Rat Fink Museum.

Ed Roth's creation "Stealth 2000" on display at the Rat Fink Museum. (Brian Champagne)


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MANTI — After a year off for COVID-19, the Rat Fink Reunion is coming back bigger than ever in Manti this week.

If you like your art a little on the rock 'n' roll, crazy, and hot-rod side, Manti is the place to be Thursday through Saturday night. It's the 19th annual Rat Fink Reunion, a tribute to Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and his ideas and attitudes.

Headline guests are Thomas Estrada, who has numerous DreamWorks and Disney animation credits; and Gene Winfield, a contemporary of Roth's and hot-rod-building legend.

Aimee Cobabe checks out the art and news on display at the Rat Fink Museum at the 2019 reunion.
Aimee Cobabe checks out the art and news on display at the Rat Fink Museum at the 2019 reunion. (Photo: Brian Champagne)

Artists who carry on Roth's monster-laden, tire-smoking, and pinstripe style have already arrived from Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Iowa, New York, Illinois and Wyoming. Utah is well-represented, too, but COVID-19 shut down the usual international artists from Denmark, Germany and New Zealand.

If you have any screen-printed T-shirts, you have Ed Roth to thank for it. In Southern California during the hot-rod heyday, car clubs had him airbrush designs on their club jackets. When it got too hot for jackets, he airbrushed caricatures and monsters on T-shirts. Unable to keep up with demand, he tried screenprinting, and the rest is crazy T-shirt history. Roth also pinstriped cars and made his own outlandish show cars. He passed away in 2001, and the reunion started shortly thereafter.

Larger than life Rat Fink greets visitors at the Rat Fink Museum.
Larger than life Rat Fink greets visitors at the Rat Fink Museum. (Photo: Brian Champagne)

Roth's son and event co-organizer Cody Braithwaite is excited for the gathering, especially after it went virtual during last year's pandemic. He described the gathering artists as thrilled to be there, saying, "You don't realize how much you miss it until you don't have it. (Waiting one) year is torture as it is."

New this year is Pirate Larry's Oddities and Curiosities, a tent of exhibits as described. The big car show is at the Manti Park on Saturday, but if you want to catch artists in their element, Thursday and Friday are the days to be at the Roth home and museum. Hotels in the area are sold out, but Braithwaite claims that the drive back to Nephi for a hotel will be worth it to catch both days.

Related:

The event will be held Thursday through Saturday at 404 E. 300 North in Manti. Details and the schedule are at ratfink.com

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LifestyleUtah
Brian Champagne has reported on cars since 1996. When he's not out driving something interesting, he teaches journalism at Utah State University.

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