45th Back to the 50s – 12,000 Cool Cars!
The Minnesota Street Rods’ 45th Back to the 50s car show was once again a massive success packing the St. Paul Fairgrounds to capacity. I’ve had the privilege to attend a great deal of car shows throughout the United States, but I have yet to find an event that rivals the MSRA’s Back to the 50s weekend.
The event covers every blade of grass and every inch of asphalt of the State Fairgrounds’ gorgeous 320 acre showplex. Just think about how large of an area that is, now imagine 12,000 pre-1965 show cars, and over 450 vendors occupying that space. It’s really hard to fathom, and nearly impossible to fully take in even with the spectacle lasting three full days.
With calling the Midwest home for most of my life, Back to the 50s was a local event that I never missed. Now that I live a couple thousand miles away in the Pacific Northwest the show is certainly not local, but remains one I refuse to miss, so I hopped a flight back home. The 45th Back to the 50s was perhaps the best yet.
Friday is my favorite day of the weekend as nearly all the show cars are present, but the spectator count is reasonable as it’s a week day. Saturday is the peak of attendance with crowds nearly rivaling the State Fair itself. By Sunday my feet are asking for a break, but there is none of that as the massive swap meet starts a 6am, and as you know, the early bird gets the worm at any swap meet.
The weather in the Midwest can be a bit warm and humid, but the show grounds have many massive shade trees that provide relief from Mother Nature. The weather at the 45th Back to the 50s was perhaps the best the event has ever experienced with mild temps and low humidity. Once the sun sets the show takes on a whole new feeling as the temps drop and many cars clear out, but those that that stay until closing time are free to cruise at a much more comfortable pace. I absolutely love this phase of the show and find myself wishing the sun would set faster.
The fact that the Back to the 50s show is not a static display type of event is another aspect that makes it so much fun. Car entrees line both sides of the streets running through the show grounds, but cars also cruise non-stop through the center of the streets bringing the show to life. Attending a show that allows you to hear the exhaust, feel the rumble, and even enjoy the smell of high octane fuel is so much more enjoyable than a standard park and display show. When you get tired of walking you can grab some cheese curds and a milk shake under a shade tree and let the car show come to you. Provided you’re lactose tolerant that is.
Other activities during the weekend include; an indoor classic car auction on Friday and Saturday, live bands, vendors, a sky tram over the grounds, a boutique for the ladies, a massive swap meet, and did I mention 12,000 show cars?
Summer is a busy time with lots activities and events to choose from for classic car enthusiasts, but if you have never attended the Back to the 50s event, I’d add it to your “must attend” list as it is truly one of a kind.
If you do attend bring your appetite for great food, amazing cars, and friendly camaraderie. You also might want to strap on a comfortable pair of walking shoes. That 320 acres sneaks up on you quick!