What: Classic Cars ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll
When: Fri.-Sat., October 10-11
Where: Downtown Southport
Cost: $30 to cruise, free to spectate

“I have a personal love for classic cars because they are the ones I grew up with,” Bill Vann, president of Cape Fear Cruisers, divulges. “The memories of driving these beauties with the windows down, blaring rock ‘n’ roll music, loud mufflers, and your steady girl sitting right next to you, are as clear today as they were in 1959. What a great time to be a teenager!”

For Vann, the cars of the ’50s and ’60s had lots of style and character. Today, the sight of a ’57 Chevy draws far more attention on the highway than a speeding motorcycle, not only for its rarity but for its graceful design and the memories of days of old it conjures. And Vann is not alone in his love of classic vehicles. Cape Fear Cruisers, based in Southport, offers memberships to an array of folks who have a passion for old cars, classic cars, and muscle cars alike.

“Being a member of the Cape Fear Cruisers is important to me because we have such a diverse membership,” Vann details. “They are from all over Brunswick County. We are approaching 50 members at this time. Best of all, these people are my friends and I look forward to seeing them!”

On October 10th and 11th, the non-profit organization will gather in Southport to showcase their hot rides from the middle of the century. Co-sponsored by the City of Southport, the weekend of festivities dubbed Classic Cars ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll also will feature live music in the style of the era complete with a street dance and a drive-in movie.

“It’s the time we have chosen that makes Southport a good location for a cruise-in,” Vann encourages. “It’s after our peak season. Our merchants can use the business. We can take advantage of all downtown and our gorgeous waterfront. Just a short drive from Hwy. 17, it’s easy to get here. It’s a great place to relax. And keep your fingers crossed—the weather will be perfect!”

Registration and check-in will get underway at 4 p.m. on Friday, October 11th. At 6 p.m., the cruise-in will commence at 9th and Howe streets and end at Waterfront Park. And old-fashioned street dance will take place at the band stand located at Howe and Bay streets from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., featuring live rockabilly music from Cha Cha’s Cadillac at 8 p.m.

“A Cruise-in is what transpired on Friday and Saturday nights in almost every town in America in the ’50s and ’60s,” Vann explains. “Guys would gather at their favorite eating joint and spend hours driving back and forth to different ones around town. At 25.9 cents per gallon of gas, that wasn’t bad. After all, you were making 50 cents an hour at the gas station on Saturday! Our event is a cruise-in as opposed to a car show where you park in one location. The car is judged and hopefully you receive a plaque or a trophy.”

On Saturday, the cars will ride from the same spots at 5 p.m., but the fun will go on all day. Vendors will be placed at Garrison Lawn (203 E. Bay St.) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The band stand will feature entertainment starting at 2 p.m., including Dennis Walton Band at 6:30 p.m. and Cha Cha’s Cadillac again at 8 p.m. There will be vintage dress and dance contests, a 50/50 drawing, and the announcement of the people’s choice award. “The public will be invited to vote for their favorite car by purchasing a $1 ticket per vote, with no restrictions on the number of tickets each person can purchase,” Dale Boden of Cape Fear Cruisers confirms. “All net funds raised will go directly to local charities.”

At dusk, “American Grafitti” will play for an old-fashioned drive-in movie at the corner of Nash and Rhett streets (Taylor’s Field). Space is limited, so folks are encouraged to arrive early.

“The city itself is perfect for strolling among classic cars parked along the streets,” Boden affirms. “Salubrious breezes and wonderful neighbors, it does not get any better than this.”

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine