The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








A past Cruising Downtown Car Festival. Courtesy photo.

Cruising Downtown

When: Saturday, Sept. 2 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Veterans Memorial Park, 723 Elm St., Manchester
Cost: Donations of $10 to $15 are encouraged
To be part of the show, car owners pay a $25 fee and can register online.

Cruising down Elm
Car festival returns to Manchester

By Ethan Hogan

 Sections of Elm Street in Manchester will be shut down to make room for a display of about 1,000 specialty cars, including original antiques, fully restored vehicles and, for the first time, a Wienermobile. 

The 17th annual Cruising Downtown Car Festival is being held on Saturday, Sept. 2, on Elm Street. Hosted by the Manchester Rotary Club, the all-day event will feature food and entertainment and, of course, all kinds of cars. 
Ron Fournier, a senior organizer of the event and owner of Ron’s Toys, is the only member of the original team that created the event 18 years ago who is still involved. Fournier said the car show started when a group of his friends met for breakfast to organize a night ride. The night ride quickly evolved into a car show that now has competitions and prizes. 
Since its inception in 1999, the car show has missed only one year while it was in transition from its own committee to the Rotary Club that organizes the event today. Fournier said the show has grown in size every year, and it features a huge range of car styles.
“You name it, it’s probably going to be there,” said Fournier.
Car enthusiasts with specialty cars come from across the country and Canada, and there will be trophies and plaques for the first 200 cars to register.
Original cars, fully restored cars, cars with art decals, antiques and low riders will be on display. Fournier said rat rod style cars, which embrace an intentionally rusted look, have piqued his interest lately.
The cars’ owners will be with their cars to talk to visitors. Fournier said that if the weather is nice, he is expecting more than 1,000 cars and more than 30,000 people to show up and fill Elm Street, from Bridge Street down to Lake Avenue. 
“We fill up all the side streets. There were just under 1,000 cars last year,” said Fournier.
New this year is the Wienermobile from Oscar Mayer hot dogs. The Wienermobile is 60 hot dogs long and 24 hot dogs high, according to the vehicle’s website. The Wienermobile visiting Manchester is one of six in the country, all piloted by recent college graduates called “Hotdoggers.”
Moe Nault, who works with Fournier during the event and is a former car show committee member, has his own collection of cars, including 1935 and 1938 Chevys.
“My whole life has been cars and guitars,” said Nault.
Nault said the memories he has from these shows are just as valuable as the classic motors. One of his fondest memories was the year that founder of the show, Chuck Gordon, who had recently died, was honored with his 1957 Chevy Nomad parked on the City Hall lawn.
“That was pretty special,” said Nault.
There was also the year that actor Paul Le Mat from the cult classic film American Graffiti visited several years ago. Le Mat played the king of the boulevard with his yellow coupe in the film. Nault said they posed for photos on the hood of the same style yellow car that happened to be at the show.
For people not interested in cars, Nault said, there is still something for everyone.
“The show has so much variety and the fact that you are shutting down the main street in the most heavily populated city in the area is pretty cool,” said Nault.
There will be live performances throughout the day on two stages at both ends of Elm Street, and food vendors will line the streets ready to fill the hungry crowds. The Watts Up Band will play from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Veterans Park. On the center stage at 100 Elm St., Permanent Vacation will play from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and Speed Trap will play from noon to 3 p.m.
Nault said the fire department will do a jaws of life demonstration that is popular with kids. Using a junker car, the fire department will show how their life-saving giant scissors can cut through steel during an emergency after a car crash.
The president of the Rotary Club, Thom Lavoie, said donations and proceeds will go to nonprofit organizations that help underprivileged kids go to camp.
“There shouldn’t be a kid in Manchester that can’t go to one of these not-for-profit camps,” said Lavoie. 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu