BEMIDJI — From classics to hot rods, cars of all kinds were on display as the Sanford Center’s inaugural Babes Burnout Car Show rolled into town on Saturday.
Thousands of automobile enthusiasts gathered at the Sanford Center parking lot to witness a wide variety of vehicles and their souped-up motors along with live music, good food and games.
Sanford Center Assistant General Manager Bobby Anderson and Sanford Center Director of Sales Ethan Rogers said they organized this event for two reasons: “Cars and community, that’s what it’s all about today,” Anderson said.
As Anderson and Rogers drew up the idea to bring the Babes Burnout Car Show event to Bemidji, the goal behind it was to create an inclusive space for the community to spend time with friends and family, look at cool cars and enjoy a fun Saturday in Bemidji.
“We wanted to make this event into something that the community could come to and just enjoy another day in Bemidji where you get to be outside during the summer weather,” Anderson said. “There’s something here for everybody and it’s a free event so there’s no barrier for entry for anybody.”
When Anderson said there was something at the car show for everyone, he meant it. Even those who knew nothing about cars could find something to enjoy at Babes Burnout.
Not only did the event have over 130 cars on display, but it also played host to an assortment of different food trucks, a cornhole tournament, a couple of bouncy houses inside the kid’s zone, an entertainment tent with live music playing all day, face painting by the Bemidji High School Cheer Team and a vendor area which included arts, crafts and baked goods.
Another highlight of the event was the Powerhouse Mobile Dyno — a dynamometer used to measure things like engine horsepower, torque and the mixture of air and fuel in the engine.
Attendees gathered around the station and let the numbers do the talking as they attempted to guess the amount of horsepower each vehicle had.
An awards ceremony rounded out the day at 4 p.m., and Rogers and Anderson had over 23 trophies to hand out to the automobile owners. Some of the categories included a motorcycle class, mayor’s choice, people’s choice, best rat rod, best four-by-four, best antique mopar and the list goes on.
“This event is really marrying the old school and the new school,” Rogers said. “We got the classics, the antiques, the muscle cars and we got all the new stuff too and we’re trying to bring the whole culture together.”
Although the idea of a car show tends to focus on the “car community,” isn’t just about the cars.
The essence of a car community is the people it brings together — and that was proven on Saturday.
For Anderson, cars were a way to connect with his grandfather.
“I have a 1972 C10 Cheyenne Super that I entered in the show,” he said. “Grandpa was a metal man and he always had old cars around. I grew up around this.”
Rogers grew up in the car community, too, as his parents organized their own car show each year in his hometown.
A car can become a conversation piece and an entry into a comradeship between people, even if they are completely different. Even those who don’t know a single thing about a common car or a supercar that they see on the street, most understand the prestige that comes with them.
Bemidji native Ashlyn Daly entered her family’s bright-orange 1972 Dodge Charger 383 Magnum into the car show on Saturday. Daly’s father bought the car over 30 years ago for her family — a way to bond together and learn about cars.
And this isn’t their first car show, Daly and her father — both a part of the Paul Bunyan Vintage Auto Club — have been participating in car shows for years.
“We usually do about 10 each summer. We just try to do as many as possible,” she said. “We are part of the auto club here in Bemidji and we meet every Thursday and go for cruises. We sometimes just go for a short ride or drive to a local business. We just have fun with other car enthusiasts.”
With the success of this first event under their belt, organizers are already looking forward to next summer’s Babes Burnout Car Show set for July 13, 2024, in the Sanford Center parking lot.
Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University’s class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.