Families, start your engines and make plans to take a nostalgic cruise to Streator this weekend.
Held along Streator's main thoroughfares, the city festival features music, food, the Labor Day parade and what organizers call "the largest automotive event in downstate Illinois." The Roamer Cruise Weekend and Car Show has attracted nearly 20,000 car enthusiasts and their families in past years.
More than 600 restored and vintage automobiles are expected to line the downtown streets and — on Saturday night, Sept. 5 — most of them will cruise around the city from 6 to 10 p.m. in a constant parade of nostalgia. Many of the same classic autos will again be exhibited at Sunday's Dream Machines Car Show in City Park.
Disc jockeys from 3-D Sound will announce entries and offer commentary on the cars as they cruise by the judging stand set at City Park Saturday night.
Returning from last year's event, The Voodoo Kings Kustom Car Club, a Chicago-based group, will presented their crowd-wowing "Fire Show" 9 p.m. Saturday. High-performance, custom-built vehicles will scream in and around City Park with fire shooting from their chrome exhaust pipes.
Ray's Rockets, a musical group playing hits from the 1950s and 1960s, will perform in front of Ray's Paint and Wallpaper Store, 214 Main St., from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday. On the other end of Main Street, 1950s-1960s power-popsters Bagshot Row will appear 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Eagles Club.
As in previous years, a highlight of the cruise weekend will be an appearance of the festival's namesake — a classic 1917 Roamer built in Streator by the Halladay Motor Car Co., which later became the Barley Motor Car Co.
Marketed as "America's Smartest Car." the Roamer — designed by Albert C. Barley, Cloyd Kenworthy and Karl H. Martin — was assembled to resemble popular European-made automobiles of the era such as Rolls-Royce and Fiat. In 1917, two versions of Roamers were produced in Streator, the 6-45 model sold for a bargain for $1,850 and the 6-90 was priced at a whopping $2,950.
Barley later moved his car manufacturing plant to Kalamazoo, Mich.
In a magazine advertisement more than 90 years old and found on the Internet, the sporty Roamer was promoted as a vehicle "built to satisfy an ideal, not to meet a price and while it has the mechanical genuineness of automobiles selling well above its price, its appearance is like no other car built in this country today."
The city's only such classic Roamer car, once an exhibit at Mendota's now-closed Time Was Museum, is owned by a trio of Streator friends — Ed Brozak, Vince Luckey and Bill Vietti — who bought the antique auto in 1999 and returned it to the city of its origin. In a recent interview, Brozak said the Roamer is in good working shape and now comes out of storage only for the annual Cruise Night.
The cruising route for Streator's big Saturday night is similar to past years. According to Dream Machines Car Club President Mike Starjak, eastbound Route 18 traffic will be directed onto Bridge Street to Park Street, and then from Park to Hickory Street up to City Park.
Westbound traffic from Route 18 will be channeled north from Illinois Street to Elm Street, then west on Elm to Bloomington Street, then south on Bloomington back to Hickory Street and west again to City Park.
To keep cars moving, driving participants on the closed cruise route will not be required to stop at street traffic lights. Parking at 45-degree angles will be allowed on the south sides of Main and Hickory streets and on adjacent side streets.
It costs $10 to register a vehicle to drive on cruise night, and specialty awards will be given to the best "wheels" in the nightlong event. A "Coolest Cruiser" will be given to the crowd's favorite.
Numerous vendors will be set up around town for business and food booths, selling "deep-fried everything," will feature freshly prepared snacks and more for those walking along the cruise routes.
Streator Kiwanis Club will sponsor a food booth at the east end of Main Street next to Streator Insurance Company on Saturday.
Registration for the Dream Machines Car Club Show on Sunday is set for 9 a.m. to noon in City Park with a fee of $15. Within the 19 automobile classifications and 10 motorcycle classes, there will be three awards given in each category. The show will run noon to 3 p.m.
Operators of Streator's classic Majestic Theatre are planning to screen a special film event during the weekend celebration and possibly live performances by local musicians.
The annual Labor Day parade, beginning 1 p.m. Sunday, will end the celebration. This is the first year the parade has not been conducted on the Monday Labor Day holiday in recent memory. Event planners wanted local residents who usually work the big parade to spend the Monday holiday with their families this year.
The lineup for the procession, which salutes area union men and women, begins at 11:30 a.m. near the Santa Fe depot on Illinois Street, marches through Streator's main streets and ends in City Park.
Reported By: Steve Stout, email@example.com, 815-433-2000