Would food trucks fuel attendance at Barrington's Cruise Night?
Barrington's long-running weekly Cruise Night might be tweaked in an effort to boost attendance this summer.
Owners and fans of custom cars and hot rods from the village and beyond have gathered for the past 14 seasons for Cruise Night in the BMO Harris Bank parking lot at Cook and Station streets in downtown Barrington. The family-friendly, alcohol-free gatherings from June 1 through Aug. 31 last year included food and ice cream vendors, prizes and entertainment.
However, Cruise Night arose as a concern during a recent, broader Barrington village board committee discussion on special events. Anecdotal evidence suggests Cruise Night attendance has been declining.
Village spokeswoman Patty Dowd Schmitz, who handles marketing and special events, said leaders hope this year's Cruise Night can be "juiced up" in an effort to keep it as a weekly summer staple. An addition of gourmet food trucks was floated as an idea to spark more attendance.
Barrington Trustee Jim Daluga took the food truck idea a step further.
"Just dump Cruise Nights and say we're doing food truck night and bring in food trucks and put them in that (BMO Harris) parking lot," Daluga said. "You'd have a mass of people downtown."
Schmitz said another possibility would be to reduce Cruise Night from weekly to monthly this year or in 2019.
Cruise Night is a village production meant to lure visitors who will spend money in downtown restaurants and stores while they are there.
Part of the problem for Barrington is much more competition than when the village started Cruise Night, said Economic and Community Development Director Peg Blanchard. She said it was common for officials from other towns to check out Barrington's Cruise Night.
"A lot of the people have really taken our model and implemented it," Blanchard said.
Lake Zurich, Crystal Lake, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows and South Barrington are a few of the other suburbs with summer car gatherings.
Schmitz said Barrington's Cruise Night mostly pays for itself through sponsorships.