Car show outgrows its traditional Main Street spot

Jim Boyer shows a photo of his 1917 Bethlehem truck. The truck, which Boyer’s grandfather acquired in the 1920s, will be on display during the car show portion of the 31st Annual A&W Cruise In & Car Show this September at Kiwanis Park.

Fliers which began to be distributed last week announcing plans for Payette’s 31st annual classic car show include the word “cruise” in the event’s name, but this year there’s an “in” after “cruise” to make it a “cruise in.”

That’s because although a number of cars will be “cruising in” to the Payette A&W the night of Friday, Sept. 6, recent years’ practice of cruising all the way down Main Street and back again — and over and over again for two and a half hours — will not be on Friday’s menu for the two-day event.

Jim Boyer, the former owner of Payette’s A&W and classic car buff who originated the community’s classic car show 31 years ago, said the Friday night cruising portion was introduced less than 20 years ago. Though popular from its inception, the controlled cruise grew only gradually through its first decade-plus. During the last half-dozen years, however, it has been as if some unseen force has surreptitiously nitro-boosted the thing.

“We had maybe fifty to seventy-five to start with” for the first full-on cruise in 2000 or 2001, Boyer recalled, “and last year we had three-fifty. They were backed up past Albertsons trying to get in. It was just kind of chaos.”

As last year’s registrations total reached the 350 mark, Boyer could see that the controlled cruise had simply grown too large. “There was the problem. We had more cars than we had street,” Boyer said.

Boyer and other members of the event’s host organization, Rods of Idaho and Oregon, were also concerned about the potential impact on safety.

“One of the main things is the fact that it was kind of getting out of control, and just didn’t want anybody to get hurt. … It’s real natural for a little kid just to pop out [into the street], and if there were a mishap, and somebody hit a throttle or something that shouldn’t have been doing that, and hit a little kid…”

With discontinuation of the Friday night street cruise, Boyer is using the opportunity to make other changes that he views as improvements to the Western Treasure Valley’s signature event for classic car fans. A concert which had been staged in recent years during the cruise at Bancroft Park will be switched to Saturday night at Kiwanis Park, utilizing the Kiwanis Park bandshell. The concert follows the car show which runs during the day at the park, with awards being presented at 4 p.m.

“We’re just combining everything into the big park — Saturday day and night instead of just Saturday day,” Boyer said.

The Original Rocketeers will provide more than three hours of rock music for the free evening concert, during which there will be food vendors and a beer garden.

Other familiar features of the annual event which will continue this year include a swap meet at the park, lawn mower races in front of A&W, and raffles benefiting the Rods of Idaho and Oregon scholarship fund. (Scholarship recipients are students in automotive-related fields who attend the College of Western Idaho.)

Boyer said the car show has always been held on the first weekend after Labor Day, and this scheduling has been a complete success where weather is concerned.

“We had one early morning rain, but the weather has been always good. It’s not too hot, it’s cool in the morning, and just a nice afternoon. … It’s been very pleasurable to be in the park.”

Boyer, who says he works in his shop almost every day, certainly has something rather special to show for that activity. He has restored a 1917 Bethlehem truck, all two-plus tons of it, and he will proudly have this on display Sept. 7 at Kiwanis Park. The truck wasn’t one Boyer had to go searching for. It used to belong to his grandfather, a homesteader at Malheur City, who purchased the truck used from a Pennsylvania seller in the 1920s. Watch for an in-depth account of this local historical tale in a future issue of Western Treasure Valley Magazine.

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