SEQUIM — When you see this many cool cars rolling down Washington Street, it usually means it’s May and Irrigation Festival time.
In August, however, that means it’s Sequim Prairie Nights.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, an anticipated 200-plus classic vehicles park on Washington Street from Sequim Avenue to Third Avenue, followed by a 30-mile cruise selected by Bruce Lindquist and Rich Odem through the Sequim-Dungeness area.
“We tell people to enjoy the cars, eat downtown and shop downtown,” said Judy Reandeau Stipe, executive director of Sequim Museum & Arts. “We want to recreate a place for men and women to show off their cars and to show off what the merchants have to offer.”
Organizers said more than 4,000 people walked the stretch during the show’s first year in 2017.
“It was more than anybody ever thought,” said Bobby Rose, music organizer/co-DJ for the event. “I think it’s going to be as big or bigger than last year.”
Sequim Police officers close the three-block stretch at 7:30 a.m. Saturday with cars entering through 9 a.m. until the cruise begins at 3 p.m.
Registration is available in advance for $25 through www.sequimprairienights.org or starting Saturday morning for $30. Dog House Powder Coating created more than a dozen custom trophies for the event.
Funds raised help support the Sequim High School automotive class purchase new tools, and after expenses for the event the remainder helps with construction of the Sequim Museum & Arts building on Sequim Avenue.
Reandeau Stipe said their all-volunteer workforce hopes to finish construction by March 2019, and the Cedar Street exhibit building going for sale in January. To volunteer, call 360-681-2257. Participants are encouraged to bring food donations for Sequim Food Bank, as well.
For 78-year-old Rose, Sequim Prairie Nights brings him back to the spotlight as a singer.
In 1960, his vocal group The Pretenders released the single “Don’t Tell a Lie,” helping launch his music career for decades to come.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, he reunites with his sister Gloria, a recording artist in her own right, to sing the hit song.
Rose said he’s always been a car and music guy, so Sequim Prairie Nights is a perfect fit for him.
For the event, his selected playlist broadcasts on KSQM 91.5 FM as he and Linda Hindes will co-host the event live with raffles and drawings throughout the festivity.
Rose formed The Pretenders in 1958 and traveled for various tours and performed long stints in Las Vegas and California night clubs including time as “Bobby Rose and the 2+2s.”
Rose’s recording of “Don’t Tell a Lie” almost remained in storage, he said.
His group recorded two songs for a single album but he said it was put away until he prompted a new manager, Scott Johnson, to release it on Rose International Label.
“We started distributing them ourselves at record stores the old fashioned way,” Rose said.
“We had to sell it ourselves telling them ‘this is going to be a hit’ and requests began building. We did really good for not having a big multi-million dollar distribution company sending them all over the country. We did probably better my way.”
Rose attributes much of his abilities to talent from John C. Fremont High School in Los Angeles where he grew up, including its many talented African-American singers.
“That’s where I learned my trade,” he said. “They taught me so much.”
He continues to hear many of his contemporaries on satellite radio today, and even his “Don’t tell a Lie” has seen a resurgence.
Following an interview with disc jockey Matt the Cat in recent years, Rose said requests began coming in for his song across the country.
“ ‘Don’t Tell a Lie’ became a hit again for me without even trying,” he said.
He’s a guest on KSQM and his song receives requests there, too.
In 2011, Rose and his wife moved to Sequim, where he discovered a big classic car following.
If it’s not raining or snowing, Rose drives his 1950 Mercury around and often parks to talk and hear stories from locals about their cars.
“Cars and music bring out the good in people, at least to me,” he said.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].