By BONNIE BAILEY
If you’ve driven past the Jonesborough Hardee’s lately, you may have noticed that the parking lot has taken on a retro vibe, and it will do so every Friday evening for the rest of the summer. The Hardee’s, located at 395 E Jackson Boulevard, is hosting a weekly cruise-in event on Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m., weather permitting, until September 29.
The cruise-in features a classic car show, meal deals, and door prizes.
The cruise-in is organized by Bill Rider, a trustee for the New Life Fellowship Community Church, and the funds raised through the summer event will go toward the construction of a new church.
The car show is free for participants and visitors, but donations to the church are appreciated. Rider also encourages the purchase of tickets for door prizes.
“This is the only cruise-in you’ll go to that you’ll get a door prize,” Rider said. “I sell 50/50 tickets. The winner gets half the money and the other half goes into the church building fund.”
There are usually between 20 and 30 classic cars at the cruise-in, which is open to motorcycles and other vehicles as well. Rider himself brings a ’52 Ford pickup occasionally.
People don’t realize it, he said, but there are a lot of classic cars in Jonesborough. And many classic cars come with interesting stories.
Bill Harvey brought his ‘homemade’ classic to last week’s event. The car is nicknamed “Old Woody.”
“It used to be a station wagon,” Harvey said, “and a tree fell on the back of it.”
The rear end of the unique vehicle is now constructed out of shiny, well-cared for wood.
“It was rebuilt by a cabinet maker,” Harvey said. “It took two years. It’s all oak.”
Harvey also owns a ’67 Fairlane Convertible and a ’71 Mercury, and according to Rider, he’s one of the regulars at the event.
Newbies show up often, too, Rider said. Most of them have heard about the cruise-in through word-of-mouth.
The atmosphere of the car show isn’t competitive. Instead, it’s relaxed and friendly. Most of them have heard about the cruise-in through word-of-mouth.
Most car shows charge fees and have restrictions on what cars can enter, Rider said. This show isn’t like that.
“This is an open car show. I don’t care what you bring in here as long as you behave yourself,” he said.
And while you enjoy the cars, you can eat too. A table at the back of the parking lot holds door prizes along with a stand advertising the car show food deals: Two chili dogs for $3.33, $5 for a big bag lunch with a free apple pie, $1.79 onion rings, and $4.99 for a classic double cheeseburger combo.
Later in the summer, ice cream and strawberry lemonade will be added to the list, Rider said.
As far as when the church will have the money to build, Rider is hoping to have the funds in place by next year. The cruise-in, which has been going on during the summer months for four years now, has already successfully helped the church secure land to build on.
“We paid for the land,” Rider said. “Now we’re paying for the church.”
According to Rider, the cost for building a church ranges between $300,000 and $600,000, depending on what features the church has.
“But this is just one fundraiser we’ve got going,” he said. “There are others.”
The New Life Fellowship Community Church will be having a separate cruise-in fundraiser on Saturday, June 17th from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. (rain date June 24).
“We are trying to get the word out about it,” Rider said.
The fundraiser will be free and open to the public, and guests can enjoy an afternoon of corn hole, softball, music, and classic cars. Food will be available for purchase and the event will take place on church property on Leesburg Road, across from Leesburg Estates. Signs will be up pointing the way.