Cruisin' into Martinsburg

June 15, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Queen Street in downtown Martinsburg likely will be a sea of hot rods, collectible convertibles and lovingly restored classic cars this Sunday during the third annual Classic and Custom Cars Cruise-In to Downtown.

The afternoon event also will be a chance for downtown businesses to open their doors, for street vendors to sell their wares and for West Virginians to wish the Mountain State a happy birthday.

"This is going to be a great way to celebrate Father's Day," says Josh Barker, program manager for Main Street Martinsburg, one of the event's organizers. "It's just going to be a relaxed afternoon."

Nancy and Jim Ferner plan to bring their 1964 Studebaker to the cruise-in. The couple just finished replacing the interior of their classic car with "brand new 40-year-old seat covers," Nancy Ferner says.


The couple found a business that bought out the whole inventory of parts from the Studebaker company when it stopped manufacturing cars in 1966. The Ferners were able to buy authentic Studebaker 40-year-old seat covers that had never been used.

The material the Ferners found "was the same thing (used) when they assembled the upholstery in the factory" in 1964, Jim Ferner says.

The Ferners, members of the Martinsburg-based Norwalk Antique Car Club, have been a part of the cruise-in for the past two years. Interest and participation increased last year, and they expect about 150 cars to be registered in this year's event.

"Everybody loves to go and see the different cars that show up," Nancy Ferner says.

Barbara and Jerry Arndt also plan to spend Sunday in downtown Martinsburg.

They'll be driving their 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, a car they've owned for 15 years.

Barbara K. Arndt says she likes to support the downtown, and she and her husband also enjoy sharing their classic car with others.

Jerry Arndt "had a '55 Chevy when he was in high school," Barbara Arndt says. "His dream was to have another one. This one is better than the one he had in high school because this one is a convertible."

The Arndts took the classic car to Jerry Arndt's 40th high school class reunion and it was a smash hit, Barbara Arndt says.

"Oh my, that was unbelievable," she says. "We must have had 20 people sitting in it and on it."

The Martinsburg event is different from other car show events in that "it's an actual cruise into town," Nancy Ferner says. "In other places you just go to the place and park your car. Here you're in an actual parade coming into town."

To participate in the cruise-in, interested people must register their vehicles, $10 per classic car, at the former Martin's grocery store parking lot at the corner of Raleigh and South streets, Barker says.

Once vehicles are registered, they cruise into downtown Martinsburg via a "slow trickle of a parade," Barker says. Cars should be arriving in the downtown between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., traveling on Queen Street between King and Race streets.

Dash plaques and goodie bags will be given out to the first 200 registered cars.

Many downtown businesses will be open during the event that last year drew 1,000 to 1,500 people. Oldies music, provided by a DJ, will be "bouncing off the walls on Queen Street," Barker adds. Vendors will offer fair-type food and some restaurants will have specials.

A birthday cake also will be cut during the event to commemorate the 143rd birthday of West Virginia's statehood. West Virginia Day is Tuesday, June 20, but Martinsburg plans to celebrate early, Barker says.

If you go ...

WHAT: Third annual Classic and Custom Cars Cruise-In to Downtown

WHEN:1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, June 18

WHERE: Downtown Martinsburg, W.Va.; Cars will be parked on Queen Street between King and Race streets.

COST: Free; $10 fee to register participating vehicles

DIRECTIONS: Take Interstate 81 south, crossing into West Virginia. Take exit 13. Turn left off the exit onto King Street. Stay straight to go into Martinsburg.

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