Tonight marks the beginning of a renewed incarnation of Brandon’s summer Downtown Cruise Nights.
It’s anticipated that hundreds of vehicles will line Rosser Avenue between Sixth Street and 13th Street, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., during the first of five such nights for local automotive hobbyists to show off what they’ve done.
The past couple years had seen the event become "a little stagnant," said Brandon and Area Car Enthusiasts president Dave Burba, representing one of a handful of local automotive hobby groups that host the event.
The event had lost its sponsor, A&W Restaurants, and went without funding last summer.
The City of Brandon still provided the space free of charge, but organizers were left without the funds they needed to adequately promote the monthly summer event.
This year, they have secured Kelleher Ford, Precision Dental and Off the Wall Signs as sponsors, allowing them to pay for advertising and other promotional efforts.
Younger members have taken to social media to help in the event’s promotion.
Between 150 and 300 automobiles have typically been displayed during the event, with an undetermined number of people attending as visitors — a number Burba estimates to be greater than 1,000, but which is difficult to determine given the physical size of the event, its free admission and come-and-go format.
"It’s a grouping of all the car enthusiasts; everything from the tuners to the low riders to the classic guys to the guys who like automotive in general," he said.
While there are other weekend automotive gatherings in Brandon during the summer, Burba said that a largely different crowd tends to show up for the Thursday events, with many enthusiasts hitting the road during their weekends to visit other communities.
All ages show up for Downtown Cruise Nights, Burba said, noting that while the kids go "ooh, ahh," the adults share stories about their experience with classic automobiles.
Nostalgia is the basis for Burba’s interest in automobiles and can be traced back to his first vehicle, a 1968 Cutlass two-door.
While his heart was initially dedicated to classics, he has since found an interest in tuner cars,
low-riders and other souped-up vehicles, explaining; "You’ve got to appreciate the amount of time and money they put into those."
There’s a healthy car enthusiast population to draw from in Westman, he said, noting that Manitoba’s sparse population has resulted in pretty well everyone growing up with vehicles around them, out of necessity.
This interest has carried forward for many of them, he said, adding that it’s a means for some to "bring back some youth."
Tonight’s event is the first of five, with those interested in showing off their vehicles encouraged to enter the event at the intersection of Rosser Avenue and 13th Street.
Subsequent events will take place at the same time of day and location, on June 1, July 6, Aug. 3 and Sept. 7.
» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB