Frank Cutsforth, owner of Cutsforth’s Market and founder/organizer of the Cutsforth’s Cruise-In, didn’t know what to expect at this year’s rendition of the popular classic car show.
The event — like virtually every large gathering in the state — was canceled in May, then reinstated, with a new location and significant modifications, a couple of months later.
To make the challenge of predicting attendance even more, well, challenging, the Cruise-In did not take pre-registrations this year. So organizers really had no idea what to expect for the 26th annual Cutsforth’s Cruise-In until the people started showing up at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds Saturday morning.
Show up they did, with more than 500 cars and vehicles on display, and an estimated 2,000 more lined up throughout the day — in a drive-thru experience designed to comply with the coronavirus guidelines still in effect.
“When the gates opened up, they started pouring in,” Cutsforth said. “And they just kept coming and kept coming.”
Cutsforth revealed that it had actually been the staff of the county fairgrounds — Executive Director (and longtime car show enthusiast) Laurie Bothwell and Events and Marketing Coordinator Tyler Nizer — who had approached him about bringing back the car show in a safe and modified fashion.
They did a lot of the leg work in terms of the logistics as to how the Cruise-In would work at the fairgrounds and getting sign-off from the county and other agencies, Cutsforth said.
He also thanked Police Chief Bret Smith, Fire Chief Jim Davis and the “Cruisers” — the local classic car community in Canby, many of whom met him outside Cutsforth’s Market early each Tuesday morning for weeks to iron out the details and ensure a successful event.
“You know, the spirit of this town is pretty amazing,” Cutsforth said. “They made this happen. It’s such a great feeling, and I’m glad we did it.”
As the plans came together over the weeks, there was one thing he watched more and more: the forecast.
“When you’re planning a car show, you start watching the weather maybe further out than you should,” Cutsforth said with a laugh. “But the good Lord gave us good weather, perfect weather.”
He told the story of walking the grounds with his young grandson, “looking for blue cars” (his favorite color), and how one owner became emotional at seeing how much the boy enjoyed the hot rod that he had lovingly restored.
“There are lots of stories like that,” he said. “That’s the kind of connection kids and cars and people can make.”
Chatting with The Canby Current on Sunday, Cutsforth said that although the Cruise-In will almost certainly return to its more traditional format next year — assuming the threat of the coronavirus has lifted — this year’s edition will always stand out as a special memory.
“I’m so thankful,” he said. “The people of Canby are so amazing. It makes you feel like small town America is still alive, and maybe people will get back together again.”