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Club Gathers Steam For Cruise
Just four more Friday night 'pre-cruise' events remain on the schedule, hosted by the Escalon Lions Club leading up to the annual Autumn Cruise.

This year's cruise - being staged for the 18th year - will be Saturday, Sept. 10 in the Main Street Park and again will be a fundraiser to provide scholarships for graduating Escalon High School seniors.

The pre-cruise nights are a way to build up interest in the fall classic, said Lions Club member and car show coordinator John Salvin.

"We're averaging about 60-plus cars every Friday night," Salvin said. "We give away three awards each Friday night, we have sponsored plaques and we ask the sponsors to come down and choose the winners, that works out real good."

There have been a few lower attendance evenings - early on when there were some lingering late spring rain showers - but most Fridays have seen plenty of auto enthusiasts making the trip to the parking lot adjacent to Hula's on Jackson Avenue for the show.

The eatery also offers 'car show' specials and there is always music, a 50-50 raffle and the chance for those displaying their cars to get involved in the special 'big ticket' drawing.

"This year it's a $500 travel voucher," Salvin explained of the grand prize being provided through the local Longstreth Farms - Grower's Choice - Grower's Preference businesses.

Each time a person brings their car to display on Friday night, they get a ticket for the drawing. They must also participate in the Sept. 10 downtown cruise to be eligible for the grand prize.

There is no charge to have a car in the pre-cruise Fridays, but the fee is $25 for entering the Autumn Cruise in September. With the drawing at the event on Sept. 10, the winner will receive the travel voucher, which can be used to help pay for - or fully fund - a vacation to the spot of the winner's choice.

"They do have to participate in the big show to win," Salvin reiterated.

Many of those attending the Friday night events make it a point to come back for the main show in September, which typically brings in classic cars from throughout the Central Valley, among with a few motorcycles and even specialty boats.

"Last (school) year we provided 15 $1,500 scholarships," Salvin said of raising money for graduating seniors through the show.

Along with the entry fees, there are a few other moneymakers at the September event. A pancake breakfast, open to the community, will be served from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Grange Hall on Main Street.

Put on by the Lions Club, the cost is $6 and the menu include pancakes, eggs, sausage, linguica, orange juice, coffee and milk. Lunch is also served at the event by the Lions, a fundraising hot dog lunch that includes the hot dog, potato salad, and drink for a $10 donation.

"People say that is expensive but part of that is a donation, which goes back to the scholarship fund," Salvin explained.

At the cruise itself, which runs from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., there will be special activities including a fashion show, poker walk, the judging in a variety of categories, a raffle with multiple prizes available, a live band, and several vendors with a range of merchandise.

"We've had 29 vendors promise to show up," Salvin said of lining up the booths.

In its 18th year, the show has become widely known and hugely successful, and Lions Club members point to the Friday night shows as just adding to that success, building the excitement.

"Friday nights have been going very well," Salvin agreed, with the Lions already raising enough for one scholarship and working on scholarship number two for this year just through the Friday night fundraising alone.

The last pre-cruise night will be Sept. 2, with the downtown Autumn Cruise on Saturday, Sept. 10.