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Autorama rides again this Sunday

Mass ride planned through St. Albert
RIDING BUDDY — Parkland County resident Gary Poff holds a memorial card with a picture of Peter Minaker, a friend of his who owned this 1969 Chevy Camaro before he died in 2017. The car is one of many classic cars that will be at the St. Albert Fountain Tire May 26, 2024, for the 31st annual Autorama show ’n shine. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

A convoy of classic cars will cruise through St. Albert this weekend as Autorama revs up once more.

Dozens of cars and drivers will be at Fountain Tire on St. Albert Trail this May 26 for the 31st annual Autorama Show ‘n' Shine. Organized by the St. Albert Cruisers Car Club, this free-to-attend show gives classic car enthusiasts a chance to show off their rides.

Autorama is one of the first big car shows of the season in the Edmonton region and has traditionally happened near the same time as the Rainmaker Festival, said Autorama organizer Greg Charters.

“Some years we’ve had over 100 cars.”

Autorama started back in the 1990s when a bunch of St. Albert car fans decided to have a show, said St. Albert Cruisers secretary Bob Fisher. Initially held at St. Albert Centre, it later moved to Perron Street before settling at its current home at Fountain Tire.

Parkland County resident Larry Poff, who took part in the first Autorama, said early Autoramas featured a large faux-barn backdrop against which show winners could pose for pictures. Organizers would also take a busted car and have guests bet on how long it could run without any oil in it.

While Autorama has traditionally been a fundraiser for various St. Albert charities, Charters said the Cruisers have decided this year to make it just a car show.

New to the show this year are fun games based on various car parts, such as the fan-belt toss, hubcap roll, and creeper race, Charters said. (A creeper is a wheeled platform used to roll under cars.) Registration for this year’s car show includes lunch for two and a chance to win door prizes such as $1,000 toward a set of tires. At 2 p.m., car owners will also for the first time go on a mass cruise of St. Albert, setting out from Fountain Tire and ending at the Canadian Brewhouse.

Returning from past Autoramas will be live music from a DJ, a hula-hoop contest, automotive memorabilia, and shiny classic cars.

Car stories

One of those cars will be Poff’s unrestored 1969 Chevy Camaro RS/SS — a blue-and-white beauty that, like many classic cars, has a story to tell.

Poff, who grew up in St. Albert, said this car was originally owned by Peter Minaker, a friend of his who bought the car in Florida. When Minaker died, his family sold the car to Poff, who now keeps a copy of the memorial card from the man’s funeral in the glove box.

“We keep him in our memories as well as in the glove box,” Poff said.

Poff said you can hear many such stories at Autorama. He recalled how an Edmonton judge once came to him with a car the judge’s mother had bought in 1949 — a car the judge somehow managed to drive through a garage door when he was fiddling with the shifter at age two. The judge asked him to restore the car so he could pass it onto his daughter on her wedding day.

“People really pull their cars together with sentiment and connection to family,” he said.

“They can be [sources of] countless times of good times and enjoyment.”

Autorama runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 26 at #234 St. Albert Trail. Registration for the show ‘n' shine is $10 and includes lunch. Visit the St. Albert Cruisers Facebook page for details.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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