Jun. 22—Great Scott! It's time to go back ... to the '50s.
This weekend, Somernites Cruise is going back in time to the era of Eisenhower, sock hops, and poodle skirts, with their "Back to the '50s" theme, welcoming cars from the entire decade to the showcase area in downtown Somerset.
The new showcase replaces the familiar "Tri-Five Chevy" month on the Somernites roster.
"We wanted to expand that and make it bigger," said Somernites Executive Director Keith Floyd. "Instead of just limited to three years of Chevrolet, we wanted to open it up to all '50s-era cars."
Although the Chevy cars from 1955 through '57 had a distinctive look that has become associated with the era, cars from all over the decade are plenty recognizable, said Floyd.
"Whether it's '57 Chevy tail fin or a '59 Cadillac or a '57 Crown Vic, they're all iconic in their own way," said Floyd. "We wanted to include everybody and have a good throwback show.
And while most of the cars Floyd mentioned are late '50s models, cars from the first part of the decade have "become very desirable in the past few years," said Floyd. "They were often overlooked for many years among collectors. They have found a new following. It's not uncommon to see early '50s vehicles.
"They were like (cars) you saw post (World War II), they had a similar look," he added. "In the early '50s, you could see the transformation going from the pre-war cars to the more modern cars of the late '50s. They're just a great bridge between the two."
As part of the theme, Elvis Presley's music will be rocking downtown Somerset on Saturday. Not Elvis himself, mind you — what would the tabloids say? — but instead Elvis tribute band Aron Jones and the Kool Kats, a well-known act in their field that has played at Graceland.
Aron Jones and the Kool Kats will be performing two sets of favorite songs from the Elvis era at the Judicial Plaza stage, one at 2:15 p.m., the next around 3:45 p.m.
At the beginning of the second set, there will be a '50s costume contest, so come dressed in your best vintage wear or college sweaters. There will be a $50 cash prize for each of the best-dressed man and best-dressed woman. There will also be a dance contest as the band plays their tunes, so cut a rug to try to win a $100 prize for the best dancing couple.
Also fitting in with this month's theme — the ultimate door prize, a Crosley digital jukebox. Fashioned after the look of the traditional '50s jukebox, it has a turntable, Bluetooth, a CD player, and more. Every car though the gate gets a free chance, and you also get chances for every $5 spent buying Somernites official gear at the merchandise trailer at the show. You have to be present to win; the drawing will be at 5:30 p.m. The giveaway is sponsored by Walmart.
And for those who prefer a decade or two later, there will be a "Van-In," featuring custom vans with the unique look familiar to the '60s or '70s, on the north side of the Fountain Square.
"We did our first Van-In last year and had (about) 10 vans; we're hoping to have that again," said Floyd. "The big custom vans came into their own in the mid-to-late '70s. I think that will make a nice display."
As usual, things start on Friday with the Burnside Meet & Greet, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stonebrook Center along South U.S. 27, hosted by the City of Burnside. It's a chance to talk cars, pick up some discounts or a bite of lunch, and familiarize one's self with the Somernites concept if you've never been.
Friday evening, head on over to the Somerset Mall (stoplight no. 23), for the Friday Night Thunder Block Party, co-sponsored by the Somerset Mall and the Don Franklin Family of Dealerships Somerset. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., enjoy food trucks, contests, live music, and of course, lots and lots of cars.
On Saturday morning, meet at the South Hardee's restaurant (stoplight no. 22) for a free breakfast at 8 a.m., then leave at 8:30 a.m. for a scenic cruise out west Ky. 80 to the Mill Springs Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum. The downtown show starts at noon and goes to 6 p.m.
Cruise organizers are looking forward to another successful June show, often one of the big dates on the annual calendar, though in 2022, high gas prices have slowed things a little bit — "It's not been horrible, but it has made a difference," said Floyd. The only other thing that could hurt attendance would be hot temperatures, but Floyd advised people just to drink plenty of fluids, take their furry friends to the pet watering station by the Somerset-Pulaski County Humane Society in the alley by Citizens National Bank, and have a good time time traveling back to the 1950s right in the heart of Somerset.
"It's going to be hot but it is what it is, it's June," said Floyd. "We're looking forward to a good show and a good time."