The 30th edition of Summer’s Last Blast rolled through Vernon over the weekend with classic cars and vintage vehicles, car shows, concerts, Extreme bike air show, Burnout, food booths, vendors and lots of spectators on hand as the event concluded Saturday night with the much-anticipated Nostalgic Cruise
Over 800 cruisers took to the streets for the Cruise, Jim Gryseels, president of the Vernon Street Machines and Classics Association, reported.
“We had around 800 this year,” Gryseels said. “They were registering at the courthouse right up until time for the Cruise.”
Gryseels said he was pleased with the weekend.
“I thought everything went really well, and everyone had a good time, not only at the Cruise but all the activities around town. It seemed like we had even more vehicles at the Show and Shine on Saturday than before, even though it was really hot.”
With the 30th anniversary event behind them, the Vernon Street Machines and Classics Association members plan to keep on rolling.
“We’re already talking about next year, throwing ideas around,” Gryseels said.
Following the Cruise on Saturday night, the Mullet Boyz rocked the night in an outdoor concert on the east side of the courthouse. The group played high-energy classic, pop, rock, dance and rap.
Summer’s Last Blast 2019 started on Thursday with the Main Street Car Show. Some 70 entries took part in the event held around the courthouse square. Winners were published in Sunday’s edition of the Vernon Record.
Also, on Thursday night, the Vernon Chamber of Commerce sponsored its fourth annual Power Wheels races on Cumberland Street. Winners were also announced in Sunday’s Vernon Record.
An outdoor concert by Roy Orbison tribute musician Al Nelson entertained the crowd following the car show on Thursday.
On Friday, the classics were on display at the Waggoner National Bank parking lot with the President’s Pick Award going to James Wiesman of Wichita Falls with a 1932 Ford sedan.
Over at Sumner-Colley Lumber Co., the Redneck Show drew a variety of entries. The show’s award went to Garry Killen of Bowie with an Army truck.
A concert Friday night featured Kraig Parker as he presented his Elvis Tribute. The show was opened by local band Sarah and the Dreamers. Sarah DeLos Santos said it felt great to be the opening act for the concert.
“We’ve really been looking forward to this,” she said after the band performed. “It was a really fun experience.”
In addition to DeLos Santos, who is lead vocalist and guitarist, other members of the band include Shane Flynn Shannon Flynn and Jeremy Simmons.
Parker, dressed in his signature Elvis white jump suit, told the audience he was glad to be back in Vernon. Parker has appeared in previous years as the Summer’s Last Blast featured entertainer.
Parker sang a number of Elvis’ popular hits including “Little Sister,” “Big Boss Man,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “In the Ghetto,” “Sweet Caroline,” “It’s Now or Never,” “All Shook Up,” Polk Salad Annie,” “Heartbreak Hotel, “Hound Dog” and a number of others that brought cheers and applause from the audience.
Among those attending the concert was Elizabeth Von Tungeln. “I’ve always been a fan of Elvis,” Von Tungeln said. “I think he (Parker) does an excellent job.”
Marie Muse, another Elvis fan, agreed.
“I just love it,” Muse said. “He is so good. He sings great, and he makes us laugh as well.”
During the intermission, the Santa Rosa Belles, concert sponsors, entertained in the lobby with a mini-concert of their own. Under the direction of Dr. Rose Carreon, the group sang several selections.
Also, on Friday, the BMX Extreme Air Bike Show was held on Laurie Street as high-flying bikers thrilled the spectators with their stunts. Following the bikes, the Burnout got underway with participants smoking up the east side of town as they brought the heat to the street and sent billows of smoke into the night air. Thomas Weeks, star of the television show “Misfit Garage,” returned to the event for the second year as a celebrity judge.
Winners were announced as:
–Pro Street, Ron Hays, Vernon, 1976 Chevy, first; Randy Newcomer, Vernon, 1979 GMC Sierra, second.
–Performance Class, Marco Molina, San Juan, Texas, 2015 Dodge Hellcat, first; Chris Milner, Vernon, 1977 Chevy, second.
–Sports Class, Glynn Branin, Vernon, 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo SS, first; Steve Taylor, Vernon, 1991 Chevrolet S 10, second.
On Saturday, the action moved to Orbison Park for a number of activities. Starting off the day was the Vernon Chamber of Commerce Duck Races which took place at the Vernon Aquatic Center as plastic ducks “adopted” by participants, floated down the “lazy river” portion of the pool.
Grand prize winner of $1,000 was Callee Serrano. The top 15 winners, all of whom won a Vernon Chamber, Vernon, Tx., t-shirt, were Michelle Downes, Abby Raines, Michelle Downes, Marilyn Anthony, Dennis Jack, Meredith Wright, Meredith Wright, Victoria Parmer, Meredith Wright, Kyle Rater, Kandic Crownover, Harper Smith, Sonie Fisher, Tim Jud and Callee Serrano.
(Note: some names appear twice as some participants had more than one duck in the race.)
Orbison Park was filled Saturday with classic cars, trucks and tractors as visitors braved the heat to admire the many vehicles on display.
David Sherman of Buda, Texas was among those on hand at the event. Sherman had brought his 1955 Nomad to Vernon for the weekend.
“I came about five years ago, and I always wanted to come back, so I decided to just go ahead and come this year,” Sherman said. “I go to car shows all over the country. I have about 23 cars that I’ve restored. I really like coming to Vernon.”
Harry Carner of Wichita Falls brought his 1968 Dodge Charger to Vernon to make the Cruise for the first time.
“Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t have any cars to show, but now that I have this one, I decided to come.”
Carner said an unusual story about the car is that it is said to have once belonged to a NASA engineer.
“Supposedly he was involved with the first man on the moon team…at least that is what I was told,” Carner said. “It had been in storage in Florida when I bought it. It’s the car I have always wanted. I had one like it in college, so true or not, it’s special to me.”
An antique tractor and engine show also drew interested spectators of all ages, and a swap meet offered a variety of items. As visitors strolled through the park, the air was filled with the tantalizing aroma from various food vendors, while other sellers offered merchandise as well.
By 7 p.m., it was time for the Cruise, and tailgate parties and spectators lined the street to watch the cruisers as they drove by. The 30th edition didn’t disappoint as the cruisers filled the street for three hours.
A number of those involved with the SLB events noted how complimentary many of the residents as well as spectators were. Among these was Evelyn Morrissey of Vernon whose grandchildren were in town for the Cruise. Morrissey owns a 1965 convertible Mustang, which the grandchildren drove on Saturday night.
“They were pulling into the Sonic after the Cruise when this guy just pulled right in front of them,” Morrisey said. ‘The Mustang stalled and died, and Luke, who was driving, couldn’t get it started.”
Morrissey said what could have turned into an accident with cars whizzing up and down Wilbarger was adverted by the actions of some Good Samaritans.
“These three guys from Bevo’s ran out and pushed the car and two more guys -I think one of them was Terry Steele – also ran out to help, and they got the car into the Sonic and got it started.”
Morrissey said her grandchildren were grateful to the actions of the men and also impressed with their willingness to help so quickly.
“You know you always hear about the bad stuff that goes on, but there are plenty of good people here in Vernon,” she said.
The 31st edition of Summer’s Last Blast will take place in 2020 on the traditional second weekend in August.