Hot Rods by the Hundreds Pour into Fairgrounds for Cutsforth’s Cruise-In

A tent that, just one week ago, was packed with 2,000-pound steers for the Clackamas County Fair on Saturday filled up with a very different kind of American muscle.

Classic cars, hot rods and other vehicles poured into the county fairgrounds by the hundreds for the Cutsforth’s Cruise-In, a beloved annual event that returned to its traditional walk-through format after last year’s drive-thru experiment.

See more photos from the event on The Canby Current’s Facebook page.

Photo by Tyler Francke.

Cutsforth’s Cruise-In founder and organizer Frank Cutsforth said an estimated 525 vehicles took part in the event, though “it felt like a whole lot more than that.”

“We had a great day,” Cutsforth told The Canby Current. “We felt a lot more dialed in this year at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds did a great job taking care of us, and we had good weather. It was great to see everybody out appreciating these classic cars and all the hard work it takes to maintain them.”

Attendance was likely spurred by the sudden cancellation of the Cruisin’ Sherwood Classic & Custom Car Show, which had also been set for Aug. 28 — but was nixed earlier this week due to rising Covid cases.

Photo by Tyler Francke.

“The recent surge of infections is something that we could not ignore,” Sherwood Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Corey Kearsley said on the website for the event. “We’ve had lengthy discussions exploring various options to minimize risk and exposure to volunteers and participants. In the end, however, we felt the risk was still too high for our community.”

But the Sherwood event, unlike the Cruise-In, was to be staged in a much more densely concentrated downtown area, where social distancing would be far more difficult than at the wide-open fairgrounds.

That, of course, was the whole reason the Cruise-In was moved from its traditional location at Wait Park in 2020, and the reason it stayed at the fairground this year amid the continuing pandemic.

Photo by Tyler Francke.

This year’s Cruise-In featured vendors offering car-themed collectibles, decor, apparel and other souvenirs, along with a number of local nonprofits and athletic teams raising funds, including the Rotary Club of Canby, whose members took their traditional post behind the grill — serving up hundreds of burgers and sausages for hungry car enthusiasts.

Other groups served up treats meant to capture the spirit of the nostalgic event, like apple pie and ice cream or the Canby Volleyball Team’s ever-popular $3 root beer floats.

“It’s kind of hard to express,” Cutsforth said when asked to describe the Cruise-In. “It’s just Americana, I guess — pie and ice cream. Kids don’t always get exposure to that kind of stuff anymore, so it was a blessing to see all the young people participating.”

Photo by Tyler Francke.

One of the Cruise-In’s newer elements, which offer sponsors or individuals the ability to purchase and hand out their own awards to their favorite cars, has become wildly popular. About 70 such awards were doled out this year, Cutsforth said.

“I think it’s a really good thing,” he said. “You know, some people were very emotional to get their award. They don’t expect it because there are so many great cars out there.”

Of course, as the Cruise’s elder statesman, Cutsforth gets to name his own favorite: Frank’s award.

Photo by Tyler Francke.

“I saw a little lady pull in with her car, this really nice, little hot rod car,” he recalled. “It said, ‘Sherry’s Bomb’ on the side, and she had a little kid about 7 years old with her. They were happy and waving at everyone, so that’s who I gave my award to. Because, to me, it represents happiness. That’s what the Cruise-In is all about.”

The event also featured the KISN Good Guy Radio crew playing classic oldies, and Ray and Rebecca Hardiman’s Karen Carpenter tribute and Brett Lulich performing from the main stage throughout the day.

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