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Looking for something to do this weekend, come visit my hometown...

Cruisin': Sycamore ready to turn back time this weekend

By John Puterbaugh - [email protected]
The '50s are making a revival this weekend in Sycamore, IL. Turning Back Time Weekend, taking place Friday-Sunday in downtown Sycamore, will include all kinds of throwbacks to the era of Elvis and sock hops.

The spirit of this weekend's festivities will culminate in a '50s-style cruise night Saturday with a classic car cruise parade, a costume contest and swing dancing.

Jamie Sands, director of Discover Sycamore, cited the rich nostalgia associated with the 1950s as reason for capturing it in a weekend's worth of activities for area residents.

“The '50s is especially classic with Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, ‘Leave It To Beaver,' soda pop fountains, poodle skirts, car hops and great car styles,” Sands said. “Even if you are too young to remember the '50s, the mere thought of it invokes feelings of nostalgic well-being.”

The weekend will commence with a free, outdoor showing of “Grease” at the corner of Somonauk Road and Elm Street. There will be movie trivia, popcorn and root beer floats.

On Saturday, in addition to the classic car cruise parade, there will be remote control car races with prizes for youths 16 and younger, a '50s-style costume contest and a swing dancing contest. There will also be a '50s cover band, Vintage Vinyl, playing music from the era through the night.

“This is a multifaceted event that is a grand experience as a whole,” Sands said. “It is primarily about the classic cars in cruise night and the car show. But with so much to do for everyone, it is about coming together as a community to enjoy the summer with a unique experience.”

Sunday will feature the Fizz Ehrler Memorial Car Show, a staple of Turning Back Time Weekend for the past nine years.

Organized by Chuck Criswell and the Turning Back Time Committee, the car show will take place on State Street from Main Street to Sacramento Street, and the blocks south of North and Maple streets. Last year's show featured more than 900 cars.

“I'm hoping for 800-850 cars this year, with the economy and gas prices (making it tougher for car owners to make it to Sycamore),” said Criswell, owner of Chuck's Auto Center in Sycamore.

Even though this year's turnout may suffer, the annual car show has still come a long way since its inception nearly a decade ago. While at a car show in Machesney Park, Criswell was struck by the idea for a car show in Sycamore.

“I thought, why wouldn't it work in Sycamore?” Criswell said.

It did work in Sycamore, even if the first year's show was less than a smashing success.

“The first year, we had 375 cars and it rained all day,” he said.

Still, year by year, the car show has grown in size and popularity with Sycamore's Turning Back Time Weekend. What makes it special, Criswell said, compared with other car shows in bigger cities or in the suburbs, is the downtown feel made possible by the Sycamore show's prime placement in the center of the city.

Any kind of cars people deem worthy of putting on display are welcome at the show, Criswell said, with the most popular cars being custom-built cars and street rods. He also said he is hoping to have entertainment and food vendors present throughout the day Sunday.

Criswell stressed that the Fizz Ehrler Memorial Car Show would not be possible without the help of individuals on the Turning Back Time Committee and volunteers who donate their time to help with the show on Sunday.

Turning Back Time Weekend schedule


Free outdoor showing of “Grease” at the corner of Somonauk Road and Elm Street in Sycamore. Will include “Grease” trivia, popcorn and root beer floats. Show starts at dusk, about 8:45 p.m.

Saturday Cruise Night

• 3 p.m. classic car registration, scavenger hunt, beer garden and food vendors open

• 4 p.m. remote control car races rounds 1-3 for those 16 years old and younger

• 5:30 p.m. classic car cruise parade (along Pumpkinfest parade route)

• 6 p.m. '50s-style costume contest; $25 prize for best female and male costumes

• 6:30 p.m. Marlyn's Majorettes performance, 50/50 raffle

• 7-10 p.m. Vintage Vinyl concert

• 8 p.m. swing dancing contest, classic car trophy presentation, 50/50 raffle winner announced

• 9 p.m. swing dance contest winners awarded $100

• 9:30 p.m. beer ticket sales end


• 8 a.m.-4 p.m. classic car show
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