Car cruise-in returns to downtown Elizabethton Saturday night

Published 3:20 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The revving of engines and the squeal of tires will fill the air in downtown Elizabethton on Saturday as the Carter County Car Club kicks off its 2022 Saturday Night Cruise-Ins on Elk Avenue.
The cruise-in runs from 5 to 9 p.m each Saturday through October.
“We have a tremendous turnout for the car show and I have had several people call to make sure we were still a go for Saturday,” said Elizabethton City Councilman Michael Simerly. “We will have our city police officers walking up and down the street to check and see if anyone is setting up their chairs before 5 p.m. and ask them to wait or shop some before then. That’s our plan to help coordinate with the shop owners and we want it to work for everyone — that’s our job. We want the businesses to do well with the car show being there.”
While some businesses welcome the car show, others still have concerns about its impact on business.
Lisa Fletcher of Fletcher’s Homemade said that she isn’t against the car show but would prefer the show not to be held every Saturday to afford her opportunities to hold some sewing classes on Saturday evenings as well as other types of events in the downtown area.
“I am going to continue the way I have always done and I am not changing anything for the car show,” said Fletcher. “It impacts my business because the people that come to the car show come to the car show and not to shop. I have had a number of customers that — if I called them and told them their project was ready for pickup — have actually said they would come the following week because they didn’t want to get involved with the mess and they avoid the downtown on Saturday nights.”
Fletcher said people who come to the car cruise-in often block her store’s door with their chairs and can be hostile when asked to move. She added that her husband is in a wheelchair and the cars block the crosswalk making it difficult to get her husband on the sidewalk.
She said other business owners are afraid to speak up fearing repercussions from the car show supporters.
Other businesses like Big Dan’s Barbecue depend on the car show to help make ends meet.
“It brings me a lot of business and a lot of the other merchants here in town,” said Dan Britt, owner. “I usually take in enough during the car show to pay my payroll for the week. I can tell when the car show is here and when it isn’t. I have a lot of car show regulars.
“The ones that own the cars usually will sit with their cars while the others that come with them walk around and buy from the shops, so I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. A lot of my customers started to come as a result of the car show, and they now come back when the car show isn’t going. I don’t know why anybody wouldn’t want that many people in town.”
April Proffitt, owner of All-Star Sports and Country Crafts, agreed with Britt. “I don’t understand why a person wouldn’t want 2,000 (more people) downtown on Saturday night.
“I have been staying open since they started and I love it,” Proffitt said. “I welcome these people in. There are usually about five different states here on a Saturday night. If they had changed, I wondered what these other merchants would do to bring 2,000 people here on a Saturday night. They are like family. Sometimes when I have a slower week, that night of the car show can pay my electric bill. If you have a family, there is not much you can do that is free.”
For anyone bringing cars to the car show, remember that chairs cannot be set up until 5 p.m. Police once again will be monitoring for chairs set up prior to 5 p.m.

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