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McHenry County car shows rev up nostalgia

Published: Thursday, June 12, 2014 12:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:35 p.m. CDT
(Sarah Nader- snader@shawmedia.com)
Keith Johnson (left) of McHenry and Joe Laubinger of Lake Villa look at a 1964 Ford Falcon during the opening night of the 5th season of the Green Street Cruise Night Monday, June 9, 2014 in McHenry. Green Street Cruise Night runs Monday nights through September 29.

CRYSTAL LAKE – There are not enough days in the week for Kerry Kirkley's car shows. Kirkley, owner and operator of Double K Productions, runs eight weekly car shows during the summer including Thursday events in Huntley and hosts 35 competitive showcases during the same time.

The popularity boom of car shows has come as no surprise to Kirkley who said as more baby boomers begin to retire they start to put disposable income toward nostalgic hobbies such as vintage vehicles.

"Nostalgia definitely plays a part," Kirkley said. "You'll often hear a parent or grandparent walking by with kids and pointing to a car saying 'I used to drive that when I was in high school.'"

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McHenry County has dozens of car shows every summer including weekly events in Huntley, Cary, McHenry and Port Barrington. The increasing frequency in events and close proximity to one another has created multiple groups of classic car enthusiasts who have been instrumental in growing interest in shows.

Wayne Bastiaans, a member of Northern Illinois Streeters, said his love for car shows started in 2000 when he first went to the Cary Cruise Night. Over the years, he said he has seen the attendance and variety of vehicles grow.

Bastiaans, who owns a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, said interest in vintage cars has grown so much that manufacturers have started to reproduce parts for classic cars so people can build a "new" 1950s car from the ground up.

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While some car show presenters spend tens of thousands of dollars, Bastiaans said it can also be for people just looking to work on a project with their children.

"It's a good way to teach kids old can still be good and not just to throw it away because it is an old item," Bastiaans said. "You still see a lot of kids interested in the muscle car era, which is good to see."

Events such as Cary Cruise Night have been a hit with local businesses as well.

Brad Ball, executive director of the Cary Grove Area Chamber of Commerce, said the organization took over control of the event after previous organizers stepped down in the early 2000s.

Ball said chamber members saw the potential the event had to connect the community and it has exceeded expectations, drawing more than 100 cars and huge crowds on some Wednesdays.

"It's hugely popular," Ball said. "It's an attractive, family-fun event that is a nice way to get outside. It connects the community with a lot of our businesses too. There are plenty of places to pop in and get something to eat or drink."

Kirkley said he does not see the trend slowing down anytime soon.

He said more and more young people have their own weekly car shows with more modern vehicles. Those new lines of Camaros, Challengers, Corvettes and other cars, he said, will also stand the test of time.

"It's always really fun and really cool to see a younger person roll in with a classic," Kirkley said. "But even the new cars I see will be really quality show cars in the years to come."

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