You’d never know it by the rousing success Rock’n August is today, but one of Western Canada's biggest classic car bashes of the year comes from very humble beginnings.
Twenty-three years ago, the Cosmopolitan Clubs of St. Albert, Edmonton and Sturgeon Valley came up with a plan to rev up support for diabetes research and awareness by putting together a little car show and music festival – a unique way to engage the community.
Over its first three years – the first of which featured an Edmonton show 'n’ shine limited to 300 cars – the festival drifted more and more into St. Albert. Today, with the added support of the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce and the St. Albert Cruisers car club, this annual fundraiser has become one of the largest celebrations of classic cars and music in Western Canada and the city’s third-largest annual event. Last weekend, the show ‘n’ shine attracted close to 850 vehicles.
This year marked an incredible milestone for Rock'n August supporters: donations totaling more than $150,000 came in over the course of the festival, catapulting the 23-year total to over $1 million raised for diabetes research and education.
That’s a number to be proud of – but pride isn’t what drives the hundreds of volunteers who put in an incalculable number of hours each year to put on the five-day celebration of classic cars and classic music. Those volunteers are one of the reasons St. Albert is such a great place to live: for a city that routinely ranks as one of the best places to settle down in Canada, it’s the people with big hearts and giving natures who really make this place shine.
Rock’n August has the added benefit of leaving an economic footprint, as well. Bill Isley, the president of the festival, told MyStarCollectorCar.com earlier this year that the event is the second-highest economic development activity for the city, generating nearly $2 million in revenue as people flood in from across Canada to experience history in the form of vintage classics, hot rods and more.
“We’ve been very successful this year,” an exuberant Isley told the Gazette this week after the thousands of car enthusiasts hit the open road. “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.”
Isley is right. His group is fantastic. Over its 23 years, organizers of Rock’n August have oiled and fine-tuned a little classic car show into a massive event full of community spirit, all in the name of a good cause. His group, the City, the Chamber of Commerce, all the sponsors and other community groups, and hundreds of volunteers epitomize the best in community collaboration and dedication.
We’re fortunate to live in a city where such an event is possible. Everyone involved with Rock’n August should be extremely proud of the work they do and we thank them for their passion and dedication.