Artcar showcase highlights family affair, expanded entertainment at DEPOT DAY

Published 6:02 am Monday, May 1, 2023

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Jada August starts with a spelling question when speaking to young children about art.

The first thing she asks them to do is spell “heart.” The children start out with “H,” then “E.”

That is where August stops them and slowly emphasizes the next three letters: A-R-T.

“I let them understand that “art” is from the heart,’” August said. “Most of these kids that we go to see have not been taught that art is OK and expression is important, whether it is chalk on a sidewalk or paint on a canvas.”

August’s best way to demonstrate this experience is through the showcase of her Dragonfly Whimzee, which is a fully operational artcar converted from a Toyota Prius.

“Watching the kids go crazy over seeing artcars, touching artcars and talking to us is just the best thing in the world,” she said. “The Dragonfly Whimzee has a motto: Miles of Smiles. Her purpose in life is to inspire art by anyone at anytime on anything, anywhere.”

That excitement is coming to Orange for area residents to enjoy.

Family festival DEPOT DAY 2023 presented by the Friends of the Orange Depot at the Orange Train Depot and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 6 at 1210 Green Avenue.

Entry is free.

Jada August

Depot Day

In addition to the car show, new offerings include a kiddie airplane ride, mechanical bull, dunking booth, a corn hole game and an arts and crafts table.

A photo op area will feature a new wooden train car constructed by the Little Cypress High School woodworking shop.

Returning this year are popular attractions such as balloon sculpting, pony rides, bouncy house and the trackless train.

Inside the depot will be model trains, cotton candy and other vendors. Plenty of food will be available from vendors Model Train BBQ, The Pink Lady and the Ice Cream Shack.

Entertainment on the stage during the event will be music by the Orange Community Players singers and dancing on the street by the Orange Blossom Dancers.

Chances for the drawings will be $1 each or $5 for six.

New special item will be a Disney Model Train set, added to the following: boy and girl bicycles, gift cards to Old Orange Café, Sabine Federal Credit Union gift cards, gift basket with $25 gift card from First State Bank, gift basket from Lookin Good Salon (Paul Burch), a gift basket from Texas State Bank.

Every donation is tax deductible (Friends of the Orange Depot) and will help support the maintenance of this historical building. Contact Rose Simar, co-chairman, at or 409-330-1576, to participate.

Johnny Long works on his artcar.

Artcar fun

Jada August, Houston ArtCar Klub member since 2017, has always been an artist.

An actress in live theater and “some little movies,” she has painted, wood burned, glass etched and more.

“I had always been fascinated when I would see an art car — I didn’t know it was called an artcar at first. They were so expressive. I thought, ‘I’ve got to find out what that is about.’”

By chance she met an artcar owners and became friends, riding in the 2017 and 2018 artcar parade in another vehicle.

“That is when I was told, ‘you need to have your own car.’ That began the process,” she said. “Dragonflies have been deep in my heart as long as I remember. They are my spirit animals.”

That gave her the inspiration for her own car, and the club’s artists helped create one to drive herself.

“When I was in the parade in somebody else’s car the first time I was totally gob smacked by the incredible engineering and artistry that went into these rolling works of art,” August said. “I was hooked immediately. It just took me awhile to get my own car going. I have a 2013 Prius that started out red, and she is wearing a completely different costume these days, if you will.

Johnny Long is also coming to Orange for Depot Day with his artcar.

He met August last year and after their second date found out they were ready to make a life together.

“Her being in the Artcar Klub for years, I’ve just joined in to support her and go along for the ride and enthusiasm,” he said. “I have drawn critters for years and have my own cartoon characters. There are different ones. They are short hairy guys and they are freehand drawn on the car. I still have others to add. I have all four doors and the hood done so far.”

He mentions how neat it is that many of the artcars are operated by daily drivers.

“There are so many variations of vehicles, and some have been totally altered to where they don’t look like the original vehicle at all,” he said.