It started with some $20 bills thrown in the middle of a table.
Now it's a full-blown event attracting over 3,000 spectators.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 23 in Staples, the Still Cruisin' Car Club is hosting its 13th "Ride the Dream" car show.
Organizers expect about 500 cars, including hot rods, customs, muscle cars, trucks and motorcycles.
The car club began 13 years ago when about 10 people met in the Staples-Motley High School cafeteria to start a car club. "We threw $20 in the middle of the table and that's how it all began," said the club's president, Doug Case. "It was like a poker game without any cards," he said with a chuckle.
At Aug. 23's "Ride the Dream" car show in Staples, two engines will be given away to show participants. The engines are on display at the show.
The numbers today, both in the club and the car show, are a soaring increase from the car show's early days. Case said the first show had about 25 vehicles, including tractors, about half of which belonged to the club members.
"It's grown every year since," Case said, though the show experienced a spike in 2001 when the club began to heavily promote the show.
Since 2001, the show has given away at least one engine to a show entrant, and this year two engines valued at about $4,000 will be two of the many prizes for car show entrants. "I don't know of any other car show that has these kinds of prizes," Case said, adding that he had been to many car shows. "That makes us different from a lot of other car shows."
Case has noticed that other car shows have started to give away engines, "but we've been doing it for six years," he said. "We're kind of the pioneers of that for the small show."
Other prizes include a transmission, a 10-room, two-night stay with meals at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, a four-room, two-night stay with water park package at The Lodge at Brainerd Lakes and a hotel weekend for two at Motley's Eastwood Inn.
"I often thought about quitting the club and coming back to win all that stuff," Case said jokingly.
A $100 savings bond is given away to a spectator.
First, second and third in each category will be awarded a trophy, totaling more than 100 trophies in the 23 categories. The car club makes the trophies and this year's are fashioned after a Wayne 60 gas pump.
Show participants vote for winners, sponsors vote for their choice vehicle and the public votes for the People's Choice award.
"It's a big deal," Tony Walthall, who is in charge of the show's promotion, said of the People's Choice award. This year, Walthall said that one of the men in the club is building a model engine out of wood for the People's Choice award winner. "It sounds kind of corny," Walthall said, "but we just went to see it, and it is absolutely unbelievable."
The majority of vehicles are 1979 and older, with only customs and convertibles showing newer models.
A used car corral, concessions and a DJ with "Cool Classic Tunes" will be on site. A free shuttle service to other citywide events including the chili cook-off will also be available.
Pre-show activities on Aug. 22 include a mini car show with free food and pop at Nyhus Chevrolet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a night time/big party at Twisted Sisters where $500 cash will be awarded to one person.
Admission is $5 for spectators. Show cars are $10 if pre-registered or $15 on the day of the show. Pre-registration deadline is Aug. 18.
The show will be at Staples Elementary School on North Fourth Street. Interested persons may visit www.stillcruisincarclub.com or call Doug Case at (218) 296-1288 for more information and registration.
AMY FREDMAN may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5866.
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