For many, Lodi summer nights are about kicking back in a lawn chair, listening to local music and watching the sun set over rows of cars.
The Tuesday Cruisedays at All Stop Travel Plaza are built on a longstanding tradition of weekday evening entertainment. They run from June 6 to Aug. 29 at the plaza, located on Highway 60 at I-90/94/39 exit #119.
Each night is sponsored by local businesses that provide door prizes and help fund the bands. The entertainment goes from 6-9 p.m.
The tradition began 14 years ago, when Ralph and Mary Cornell approached the All Stop Travel Plaza about hosting a cruise night. They chose Tuesdays, typically a sluggish night for business.
The event welcomed any special cars including classics, hot rods and motorcycles.
“The first year out there if we got 20, 30 cars we thought we were doing pretty darn good,” Ralph said. “Now we’re disappointed if we have less than 100.”
The Cruisedays now have a core group of planners, including the Cornells. Six years ago, they bumped up attendance by adding live music, sponsored by All Stop (recently other sponsors have begun contributing to pay the bands, as well).
The evenings draw a group of regulars, including young couples on date nights and families with children and dogs in tow.
And hundreds of people show up each year for Cruise for a Cause, a benefit for the Carbone Cancer Center – this year on July 25.
A key to the event is its laid-back environment, said Ron Nelson, one of the Cruiseday planners.
“You go to a car show, people are fussing over their cars, detailing them out and there’s a bit of a competition amongst each other to win an award,” Nelson said. “With cruise nights … ours included, there’s no competition; You don’t have to spend hours fretting over the car. It’s just a fun family atmosphere where you come out, park your car and enjoy the night with everyone else.”
Mary Cornell said the car cruises draw people from surrounding areas, including Lodi, Poynette and DeForest.
“Let’s face it,” she joked. “What else is going on, on a Tuesday evening?”
And, she added, the events have had encouragement from All Stop as well as other local sponsors.
“We’ve had very good community support,” she said. “That’s what we’re most proud of, is that all these little communities have said, ‘yes, let’s do this.’”
• June 6: Karen Wickham and Buck & Don
• June 13: Cherokee 3
• June 20: U.S. Silver Dollar Band
• June 27: Hank Kimbal and the County Agents
• July 4: Swing Crew
• July 11: Susan Frankland
• July 18: Northern Comfort
• July 25, Cruise For a Cause: Tony Rocker (Elvis impersonator)
• Aug. 1: Universal Sound
• Aug. 8: Cherokee 3
• Aug. 15: The Classics
• Aug. 22: U.S. Silver Dollar Band
• Aug. 29: Karen Wickham and Buck & Don