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Rock'n August shifts gears

“We wanted to give the community something to enjoy. We wanted to collaborate with St. Albert businesses if we could and we wanted to get classic cars out as much as possible,” said Bill Isley, president of Rock’n August.
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Bill Isley, president of Rock''n August, plans to drive his 1989 Jaguar XJS convertible during one of the car festival's two cruises. Rock'n August runs Aug 4 to 8.

Schedule of events

Tuesday, Aug. 4
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: A&W Cruisin' Lunch (2 Hebert Road)
6 p.m.: East Side Cruise starting in the Century Casino parking lot

Wednesday, Aug. 5
12 to 8 p.m.: "Wheels of Fortune" Scavenger Hunt (You must register in advance online at www.rocknaugust.com – $10 per car)

Thursday, Aug. 6
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: A&W Cruisin' Lunch (300-975 St. Albert Trail)
6 p.m.: Wild, Wild West Side Cruise starting in the Walmart/ATB parking lot

Friday, Aug. 7
9 to 10 a.m.: Mercato's Cars and Coffee
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Jade Village Lunch Drive-In
12 to 6 p.m.: Rock'n August 2020 Poker Run (You must register in advance online at www.rocknaugust.com – $10 per car)
9:30 p.m.: Friday Nite Drive-In Movie – "Ronin" (You must purchase your ticket in advance online at www.rocknaugust.com – $25 per car). Gates open at 8 p.m. at the Larry Olexiuk Field in Riel Business Park

Saturday, Aug. 8:
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Casino Lunch Drive-In
2 p.m.: Rock'n August Country Cruise – leaves from the Casino at 2 p.m.
4 to 7 p.m.: Rock'n Social Distanced BBQ – D'Arcy's Country Diner
9:30 p.m.: Saturday Nite Drive-In Movie – "Gone In 60 Seconds" (You must purchase your ticket in advance online at www.rocknaugust.com – $25 per car). Gates open at 8 p.m. at the Larry Olexiuk Field in Riel Business Park

 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused many car shows to close, at least for this year. For classic car enthusiasts who enjoy parading their vehicles and mingling with like-minded hobbyists, the cancellations were a huge blow.

However, St. Albert’s Rock‘n August refuses to slam on the brakes. Celebrating its 24th anniversary this year, it plans to attract classic car enthusiasts of every kind from Aug. 4 to 8.

City streets will be filled with stunning retro collectibles similar to past years: both original and restored antique cars, classic trucks, specialty vehicles, hot rods, muscle cars, custom cars, low riders and high riders. They are all encouraged to strut their chrome and custom paint jobs.

But several events have taken a sharp U-turn. Missing this year is the blockbuster Saturday Show and Shine, the Friday night car parade and rock'n roll dance as well as many parking lot parties hosted throughout the week.

For most car lovers, these events are an opportunity to admire restorations, swap vehicle tips and tricks, tell interesting stories and generally shoot the breeze about anything interesting.

In a safety-first COVID world, organizers have pared down events to three cruises, two drive-in movies, a Poker Run and a Wheels of Fortune scavenger hunt.

In addition, the event committee has partnered with 12 local restaurants to offer limited specials at reduced prices. The restaurants are listed on the Rock‘n August website.

“We wanted to give the community something to enjoy. We wanted to collaborate with St. Albert businesses if we could and we wanted to get classic cars out as much as possible,” said Bill Isley, president of Rock’n August.

That three-pronged approach has been highly successful. In 2019, the organization raised nearly $100,000 for diabetes research.

COVID back-story

Back in March, committee members were in the middle of planning a new Rock’n August blueprint featuring more games and activities when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“All of a sudden, COVID was here and all summer gatherings were cancelled. By the third week, the province allowed a few things to happen and we learned how to protect ourselves. At the next board meeting, half the board said we’d already planned one event and they were not sure about planning a second.

"At that time, we also saw people enjoying their graduations, dressing up and driving by people’s houses. We knew our cruisers could do that. If we didn’t, we’d be missing a year and it would affect our relationship with car owners. We had to decamp our complete way of thinking,” Isley noted.

Pressure to restructure the car festival also came from knowledge that Rock’n August is the third-highest economic driver in the city.

“Car owners wanted something. The city wanted something and the community wanted something. This was also an opportunity to maintain momentum heading into our 25th anniversary next year.”

Anyone passionately nostalgic about the 1950s and 1960s will be thrilled at the return of a pop-up drive-in theatre at Larry Olexiuk Field in Riel Business Park on Aug. 7 and 8.

“That (1950s and 1960s) was the era drive-ins made their mark across North America. Now drive-ins are popping up everywhere and selling out. Younger folks are finding it’s a great way to get out of the house and older folks have a chance to relive their past,” Isley said.

Friday night features the Robert de Niro thriller titled "Ronin" and Saturday showcases "Gone in 60 Seconds," a heist film starring Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie. The cost is $25 per car and tickets are available online at the Rock’n August website.

“You’ll be able to hear it on FM Radio. Some of the classic cars don’t have an FM radio and they can have access (to) sound through an app.”

Registered car cruisers begin celebrations on Tuesday as part of the East Side Cruise where a chain of vehicles meet at Century Casino parking lot at 6 p.m. Driving exclusively on the east side of St. Albert Trail, the 100 or so cars will weave through eight residential districts.

On Thursday the Wild, Wild, West Side Cruise, which starts at the Walmart/ATB parking lot, will zigzag exclusively in neighbourhoods west of St. Albert Trail.

The popular Wheels of Fortune scavenger hunt that challenges participants to solve clues and construct a 10-letter word is back. Once the word is assembled, candidates receive a ballot for draws of $300, $200 and $100.

“It’s a good excuse to drive around town with friends and maybe win $300.”

And second to none is the Poker Run with it’s own brand of rules and prizes for best and worst hand.

A 50/50 draw, drive-in ticket sales and commemorative souvenir buttons printed with the slogan “The Year That Almost Never Was” make up this year's fundraisers for diabetes research. All ticket purchases are online and complete information is available at rocknaugust.com.


Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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