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Classic cars: Back to the 50s and the History Cruze

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www.msra.com

You can certainly get your fill of classic cars in the summer in Minnesota. The nice weather brings them all out of storage and most evenings you can find them down at Porky's Drive-In on University Ave.

But next weekend is the big score. It's Back to the 50s Weekend, held every year at the Minnesota State Fair grounds, just off Snelling Ave. The entire Fairgrounds will be filled with every kind of classic car you can imagine, as long as it was made before 1964. Over 11,000 cars were displayed there in 2009. Basically, the Fairgrounds becomes a giant parking lot, and you can stroll and look at cars for hours.

The event runs Friday, June 18, through Sunday, June 20. Hours for spectators are 8am to 9pm on Friday and Saturday, and 6am to 2pm on Sunday. More than 125,000 visitors are expected over the three days. There are lots of activities throughout the weekend, including evening music. Kids' activities take place on Saturday, with a tractor pull and games. The Grandstand is filled with vendors, and there is a separate craft fair for handmade items.

It's $10 per adult to get in, and kids under 12 are free. There are Park and Rides on Energy Park Drive, east of Snelling, and at the Mall of America. The whole show is sponsored by the Minnesota Street Rod Association (MSRA) and is in its 43rd year. For a treat, go out to the Cottage View Drive-In on Thursday night, where the MSRA will be holding a pre-show event. There's sure to be lots of cool rides at the Drive-In!

And if you somehow miss the big weekend, don't despair. There are plenty of other chances to get your motorhead fix. One sure way is to truck out to North St. Paul every Friday night through Sept 17 for the History Cruze. You will see everything from Model Ts to early 70s muscle cars (anything before 1975 is welcome at this show). Cars can park starting at 6pm. Cars line the main street of downtown (7th Avenue) and many of the parking lots adjoining the street. Free parking is available for visitors behind the businesses on 7th Avenue.

The event is sponsored by a different business each week, and most Fridays there is a band playing. The estimate is 700 to 1800 cars visit each week. It's like a miniature State Fair atmosphere, with food, music and people. Get your mini donut fix and stroll the half mile stretch of historic downtown North St. Paul. You can duck into one of the many antique shops if you want to, or sit down at Village Pizza for great pizza and the best fries in town, or go to K&J Catering for one of their History Cruze Buffets. Do some sidewalk shopping at Paperbacks Plus bookstore, and enjoy the outdoor patio at Neumann's Bar.

Many different special events are held throughout the summer, like a Motorcycle Show, a food drive, and Santa's Car Club Toy Challenge. The Friday night car shows are organized by the North St. Paul History Cruzers, a volunteer group (you may have seen their highway sign!). They invite other car clubs to be Club of the Night at the North St. Paul show.

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