If you're headed downtown Saturday, you'll land smack dab in the middle of a car show. There are two taking place in easy walking distance of one another: The Streets of Bakersfield Cruizin' Shine event and Eagles Show Down.
You certainly won't miss the Cruizin' Shine, when dozens of vehicles take a drive down Chester Avenue. The popular cruise, which requires the closure of a number of streets throughout the day, is the culmination of the three-day event.
The nonprofit Cruizin-4-Charity kicks it all off on Thursday with a meet and greet at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace.
"Since we got the rights to use the name Streets of Bakersfield (from the Owens' song), I can't think of a better place to kick things off at the Crystal Palace," said Tony Castiglione, founder and president of Cruizin-4-Charity.
Those who have registered for the show can pick up their packets and late-comers can sign up on site from 3 to 7 p.m. Ladies from the group Pinups for Patriots will pose for photos and guests can stay and order dinner and enjoy live music at the Palace. (Reservations are recommended.)
On Friday, drivers take off from Salty’s BBQ & Catering on White Lane at 3 p.m. and cruise to the Kern County Raceway Park for a full afternoon and evening of activities.
Registration is also available on site and participants can test out their rides with a couple of laps on the NASCAR track. A barbecue dinner will be served ($15 at the door) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. followed by a screening of the movie "Grease."
"I think we're going to have the largest blow-up movie screen in the state," Castiglione said. "The company is based here in Bakersfield."
The big draw, of course, is Saturday's cruise down Chester. Castiglione said entries were up more than 20 percent from last year with more than 350 vehicles already registered. Participants are coming from "as far north as Sacramento, as far east as Nevada and as far south as Palm Springs," Castiglione said.
Not to worry if you'd still like to take part. Castiglione said the welcome car mat is out: "We’re pretty flexible. We’ll find room for everybody."
Spectators can either arrive early for the opening ceremonies at 9 a.m., which will feature veterans of every major conflict since World War II, or wait until other festivities get going around 10 a.m.
Over the last two years, the group has been able to donate about $43,000 with the aid of participating car clubs.
This year's beneficiaries are the Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County, Boys & Girls Club of Kern County, Downtown Business Development Center, Kern County Honor Flight, Valley Children's Hospital Bakersfield, Wounded Heroes Fund Kern County and ALPHA Canine Sanctuary.
There's a goal to raise $25,000 this year to split among those nonprofits.
Along with aiding the community, the event is about having a good time and, for some, reminiscing about the good ol' car days when folks could cruise downtown.
"I enjoy hearing the stories," Castiglione said. "I had a couple come up to me. They said 'We got engaged cruising Chester back in 1962. Every Friday, we'd cruise Chester in a 1962 convertible Corvette.'
"To me, that's what it's all about."
Eagles Show Down
If you're interested in checking out some more cars, head over to 17th Street Saturday for the Eagles Show Down at the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Put on by local car club Carnales Unidos, the event is a fundraiser for the Sheriff's Activities League. Since forming in 1975, the club, thanks to president Harvey Reyes, has helped raise funds for a number of groups including the Wounded Warriors Fund and March of Dimes as well as veterans and sick children in need.
Saturday's car show will award first through third place in multiple categories including hot rods/muscle cars, motorcycles, bikes, dub cars and eras for trucks (1969 and older, 1970-1989 and 1990 and later) and cars (1959 and older, 1960-1969, 1970-1989 and 1990 and later). There will also be awards for best truck club and best car club participation and first and second in best of show.
There will also be a boxing exhibition by the Sheriff's Activities League, music by DJ Mickey Rock, art exhibition by Wykked Bones, food, vendors and more.