Cars & Coffee in Midtown Rockford

You never know when inspiration is going to hit. For Michael Thomas, it was in 2018 while watching TV.

“I saw a car show where the emphasis was coffee and car gatherings,” says Thomas, a pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Rockford. “I went online and saw that Cars & Coffee wasn’t a registered trademark name.”

Thomas, who is also on the board at Katie’s Cup, a coffee shop at 502 Seventh St. in Midtown Rockford, immediately saw an opportunity to do something special. He reached out to several local car group organizers. When Curt Kellerman, a longtime car enthusiast, responded, the two met up at Katie’s Cup and looked across the street at the parking lot of Rockford Public Schools (RPS) headquarters.

“There are over 500 parking spots around that wonderful building and another 120 or so on Seventh, Sixth and Fifth streets,” Thomas says. “I told Curt, ‘This is a great place to hold a car show,’ and he agreed.”

Thomas and Kellerman launched Cars & Coffee the following summer, and since then they’ve expanded the show to the first Saturday morning of the month, from 9 a.m. to noon, from April to October.

The show welcomes cars of all kinds, vintage and new, from dozens of car clubs and individuals in the Rockford area and beyond. For information on the latest shows, head to

“The wonderful thing about Cars & Coffee is that there is no admission charge and no registration charge for car owners,” says Thomas. “If a car owner wants to participate, they just need to call us or email us.”

In addition to showing or admiring the cars, Thomas and Kellerman are always looking for volunteers to help with registration, serve coffee and donuts, and just generally help out.

There are a variety of prizes handed out to the fan-favorite cars, everything from restaurant gift cards to car-related products and services.

“We’re really proud of our wonderful event,” says Thomas. “It’s pet-friendly, it’s bike-friendly and it helps bring people together in Midtown Rockford.” ❚