Wauconda's increasingly popular summertime car show will make its 2018 debut Tuesday, attracting hundreds of cars and car lovers.
The fifth annual Cruise Night series will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on the third Tuesdays of June, July, August and September. It will occupy Main Street between Route 176 and Bangs Street, as well as stretches of West Mill Street, Maple Avenue and Church Street.
Let's go cruisingAttendance at Wauconda's Cruise Night car show has grown each year. The number of exhibitors per event:
2017: 558 cars
2016: 466 cars
2015: 422 cars
2014: 189 cars
Source: Wauconda village hall
Classic cars, hot rods, trucks and other vehicles are expected to be on display. Admission is free to exhibitors and spectators.
The show has experienced tremendous growth in just a few years. It debuted in July 2014 with a mere 88 cars, and it averaged 189 cars per event that summer. But last summer, the show averaged 558 cars per event.
"I think the growth is terrific," village Trustee Tim Howe said. "(It's) a testament to the hard work of our volunteers, the buy-in from the businesses and residents affected, (and) the welcoming nature of Wauconda in general."
Wauconda resident Jason Laureys is on the committee that organizes the car shows. In addition to promoting what he called "car culture," Laureys said a key goal is to show off Wauconda's restaurants, shops and other attractions.
"We hope if they fall in love with our town and local businesses, they'll return," Laureys said.
To accommodate the show, Main Street will be closed to traffic between Route 176 and Bangs Street starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Some side streets will be barricaded as well.
Spectators can park at the nearby Wauconda Grade School and Wauconda Middle School campuses.
Those road closures drew public criticism from two local business owners in the show's first year. But the Cruise Nights actually are financial boons for many Main Street operations, officials said.
Between exhibitors and spectators, the shows attract about 2,000 people each month, including many who don't live in Wauconda but return to eat and drink and shop, Howe said.
"It's absolutely a positive financial impact for the businesses and, by extension, the residents who benefit from the increase sales tax revenue," Howe said.
Car enthusiasts promote the event -- and Wauconda -- too, Mayor Lincoln Knight said.
"The lasting effects ... are tremendous," Knight said.
The dates for this summer's Cruise Night gatherings are June 19, July 17, Aug. 21 and Sept. 18. Village board meetings scheduled for those nights will move to the preceding Mondays to not conflict with the car shows.
The street closures needed for the car shows make getting to village hall difficult, and parking is harder to find. But also, rescheduling the meetings lets village officials and staffers pitch in at the shows, Howe said.
"I enjoy talking with the cruisers and attendees each month and am happy that we made the shift," he said.
Wauconda's Cruise Night is one of many summertime car shows in the suburbs. Cary, Libertyville, Mount Prospect, Mundelein and Rolling Meadows are among the towns with similar events.
For more information, visit waucondacruisenight.com.