Innisfail revs up plans for downtown

Innisfail is turbo-charging its downtown revitalization efforts by rolling out a new Weekend of Wheels event next month.

Innisfail is turbo-charging its downtown revitalization efforts by rolling out a new Weekend of Wheels event next month.

Featuring a Main Street show and shine and a 100-foot racing shootout, the two-day celebration of all things automotive runs Sept. 10 and 11.

One of the organizers, Debra Stoski, is hoping to lure hundreds of proud car owners to the town to show off some vintage steel and muscle cars in the show and shine that will take place downtown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The next day, a 100-foot shootout, pitting pairs of racers in a tire-smoking test of horsepower, will take place at the Innisfail Arena beginning at noon.

Stoski, who acts as spokeswoman for the newly formed Downtown Association, said the event is all part of an effort to revitalize the town’s core, beginning next year when the main drag will be torn up to install new water pipes. While that work is underway, businesses are looking at ways to put a fresh look on the downtown.

That’s when the idea of developing an annual community event and economic driver came up.

The show and shine and shootout are not new to Innisfail. A local car club ran a similar event for years at the Innisfail Arena. The Chamber of Commerce later took over the event but the momentum tailed off and it hasn’t been held for the past two years.

Local businesses and town council enthusiastically jumped on board the initiative to restart the event and move the show and shine to the downtown. Red Deer’s Thru the Windshield magazine has agreed to run the event.

“I wanted to see an event that would help all our businesses and help our community,” said Stoski. “It’s for everybody.”

Those with fond memories of a night at the drive-in movies will also get to cruise back to memory lane. A special outdoor viewing of the classic film American Graffiti will be shown in the parking lot at Henday Mall starting at dusk. The cost is $10 per vehicle and movie-goers can tune into the sound through their FM radio.

The local Century Theatre has got into the spirit of the weekend. Matinees will be shown on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons beginning at 1 p.m. each day to keep youngsters occupied while their parents check out the cars. Admission is $1 and on Saturday Cars will be shown, followed by Herbie on Sunday.

The weekend will also include a street festival with performers, face painting and other family-oriented activities.

Stoski believes the event will be a big hit. Similar efforts in Three Hills, High River and Lacombe have done well.

On a visit to High River to show her Dodge Daytona last year, Stoski was blown away by the popularity of the event.

“They have thousands of cars that go there. It’s unbelievable,” she said. “High River, I really use them as a good platform on how we should design ours.”

The show and shine is free for spectators. Those showing vehicles pay a $10 registration fee. Gates open for Sunday’s shootout at 11 a.m. and admission is $5 per person. Children 11 and under are free. Driver registration is $25.

For more information, go to www.innisfailweekendofwheels.com.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com