Nostalgia was in the air as the 23rd annual Rock’n August packed car enthusiasts from across the province eager to display their rebuilds.
For the dedicated volunteers who have worked tirelessly for two decades to raise funds for diabetes research and education, this year’s five-day event running Aug. 6 to 10 was extra special.
“We’ve been very successful this year. We have pushed our donations over the $1 million dollar mark,” said an exuberant Bill Isley, president of Rock’n August.
As of last year, the car festival raised a total of $980,000 during its 22-year tenure. Although not all numbers have been crunched, organizers are confident this year’s fundraising has generated a similar amount to last year – $150,000.
Through the Alberta Diabetes Foundation at the University of Alberta, Rock’n August supports the work of Dr. James Shapiro and Dr. Andrew R. Pepper in ongoing research for anti-rejection islet cell transplants.
“Islets are good for seven years and after that people need another injection. That involves hundreds of patients waiting for it,” said Rock’n August treasurer Cheryl Mackenzie.
In addition, individuals with transplants must take immunosuppressant drugs that can have harsh side effects.
“They’re focused on a cure, not just treatment. It’s expensive to research. What we donate is a drop in the bucket, but every bit helps.”
Car lovers agreed. The Saturday Show 'n' Shine alone attracted close to 850 vehicles including hot rods, vintage classics, highly specialized mustangs and ritzy custom jobs.
“The beauty of our car show is that we get a little bit of everything,” said Isley.
And the Friday night parade from Century Casino to downtown St. Albert Place attracted another 425 vehicles.
“One vehicle that attracted a lot of attention at the parade was an old fire truck that had been hot-rodded, but no other work was done to it,” Isley said with a chuckle.
He also noted that a popular trend this year was an abundance of old cars with new engines and suspension.
“There’s a move to buy a modern motor and slide it into an older car. It’s not that hard to do. And you also see full-blown blue-tooth capabilities behind AM radio faceplates.”
Isley was also buoyed by the fact that 40 per cent of car registrants were first-timers. For Isley, the numbers translate into a significant number of new connections.
“We’re biased, but I’d say we’re fantastic. Everything worked. It was very smooth and we heard very good comments from people. We had one spurt of rain on Saturday morning, but we couldn’t have done any better.”