There were plenty of folks carrying umbrellas at the 10th annual Cruzin' Gimli Beach Car Show but only to protect themselves from the scorching sun. Thanks to stellar planning from a sea of volunteers and absolutely amazing weather, last Sunday's event attracted more than 600 classic and special-interest vehicles and thousands of spectators.
Organized by the Gimli Car Club, the day kicked off with registration and a complimentary pancake breakfast at the Matlock Recreation Centre, followed by a poker derby and a scenic lakefront cruise along Lake Winnipeg to Gimli, where participants and spectators packed the main drag with a sea of chrome and smiling faces. To date, the event has raised more than $50,000 in support of local charities including the Gimli Fire Department Jaws of Life Fund.
John Hykawy, the president of the Gimli Car Club, offered a brief history on the show, which has grown to become one of the province's top auto events. "In 2003 we had our first big show and kicked it off with a parade through town that didn't work out too well because it was really hot and the old cars were overheating all over the place," said Hykawy with a chuckle.
"We had been doing Sunday cruises through beach country that were popular with our members so we thought, 'why not incorporate a scenic cruise into the show instead of a parade?' We got the Matlock people involved and it has really grown ever since."
The Gimli Car Club has 55 members but Hykawy estimates more than 70 folks pitched in to make the show a success. "In addition to our club members every year we also have quite a few locals who aren't in the club but still tirelessly donate their time helping us both promote and organize the show," said Hykawy.
"We want to thank all the volunteers and the people in Matlock who do an awesome job putting on the pancake breakfast, and of course all the participants who drive up here to enjoy the day. We love showcasing what Gimli has to offer and really appreciate the amazing support we have received."
Throughout the day, folks both young and old revelled in the excitement -- including nostalgic band Jimmy G and the Doo Wops on the main stage and the popular Car Boom contest in which a dilapidated cars engine is revved up by members of the Gimli Fire Department until it blows up. Folks try and guess how long the car will stand up to the abuse and the closest time wins a prize. This year's victim, a rather rusty Chevrolet Cavalier sedan, didn't last long in the blazing heat but the considerable amount of pyrotechnics that were strapped to the car's roof and doors had the huge crowd cheering in approval.
The folks from the Gimli Car Club and everyone in the surrounding area, including merchants and locals, did an amazing job making everyone feel welcome and it's a sure bet this amazing show will continue to flourish for years to come.