Annual Car d’Lane returns to downtown By Abigail Thorpe
Every summer the local Coeur d’Alene community and visitors from near and far look forward with anticipation as the classic cars converge in downtown Coeur d’Alene for a weekend of fun, cars and camaraderie. Car d’Lane has become legendary in some ways, and for good reason. It’s one of the largest classic car shows in the area, and includes the largest classic car cruise in North Idaho.
“It started as a small car club event, and it has since grown into a two-day classic car show and become a staple event within the community,” explains Emily Boyd, executive director of the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association.
During the 1990 Idaho State Centennial, an antique car tour rolled into Coeur d'Alene. The following year, locals organized another show, until the now annual weekend-long event known as Car d'Lane was born in 1992 with the help of the North Idaho Classic Car Club, the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association and then manager Suzanne Kaderka, with lifelong resident Dave Walker helping to coin the name. Today, you can find Walker at the intersection of Fifth and Sherman during the cruise providing local and automotive history, running the judging crew and announcing the winners.
This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the beloved event, and after a missed year in 2020 due to the pandemic, it promises to be back better than ever, with all of the same traditions attendees have come to love.
Head on out to downtown Coeur d’Alene the weekend of June 18 and 19 for a host of activities that start with a Car d’Lane tradition, the high-spirited Red Hot Mama’s Parade, the opening act of the Car d’Lane Cruise. The act will start at 5pm on Friday, June 18, at Seventh and Sherman downtown, and always features an exciting ‘50s-, ‘60s- or ‘70s-themed performance from the Red Hot Mamas that will get you cheering along.
“One of the great things about Car d’Lane is we like to keep things traditional,” says Boyd. Each year, beloved events like the Red Hot Mama’s Parade, the Car d’Lane Cruise, the Poker Walk and, of course, the car show on Saturday return to delight locals and visitors alike.
Car d’Lane has always been a fun family event focused on bringing the community together downtown, as well as welcoming visitors to the fun, beauty and excitement of a favorite Coeur d’Alene event.
Boyd remembers coming down to the show herself as a girl growing up, and today it still holds that same charm and traditional feel. “Even if you’re not a classic car enthusiast, you can still enjoy the classic cars; it’s very inclusive in that way,” she explains.
Each year Car d’Lane is supported through registration fees and some wonderful local sponsors. Last year the event was ultimately canceled due to the pandemic. For this year’s event, they’ll be following any health guidelines in place and make sure there’s enough room for social distancing. “We are moving forward and hoping to have a great event,” says Boyd.
Following the traditional opening of Car d’Lane from the Red Hot Mamas, the famous Car d’Lane Cruise will take place, where classics from 1980 and earlier will be cruising the downtown strip, offering viewers a great opportunity to see their favorite models in action.
On Saturday, between exploring one of North Idaho’s largest car shows, head into some of the local downtown businesses between 11am and 3:30pm to collect your poker hand for the annual Poker Walk. Cash prizes will be given out for the highest, second highest and lowest hands, so hold onto your hand for the competition. You can purchase a poker card online at registration, or on Saturday at the Downtown Association booth at Sherman Avenue.
From 11am to 2pm on Saturday, head over to 316 Sherman Avenue for the Pinup Contest, now in its third year at Car d’Lane. The Retro Studio puts the exciting event on in Sherman Square Park, which welcomes all ages to participate and is free to attend. It’s an exciting opportunity to see the best dressed of the decades, and to show off your own charisma and vintage look.
This year also marks the third year of the Young Builders Alley, where individuals 25 years or younger can enter their car or automotive-related project and compete for the annual Young Builders Award. “I love that because it helps get the younger community involved who are classic car or automotive enthusiasts,” explains Boyd.
This year, Car d’Lane will also include a special interest category, where one block will be saved for special interest vehicles—exotic, new vehicles that are exceptionally rare. It’s an exciting new addition to the traditional show that will add an extra category for car enthusiasts to enjoy.
Car d’Lane is a favorite local event, but it takes many hands and volunteers to make it happen each year. There are many different opportunities to volunteer, including traffic control, directions, registration and T-shirt booths, and the Downtown Association is incredibly appreciative to anyone who volunteers any amount of time—plus it’s a fun, exciting event to get involved in.
If you’re from out of town and looking to stay overnight, last-minute accommodations can be a bit difficult to find over the weekend, but it’s always worth checking if some local hotspots like One Lakeside, the Coeur d’Alene Resort or even local downtown Airbnbs and VRBOs are available—you’ll appreciate the short walk to weekend festivities and entertainment.
In addition to the exciting car show events downtown, don’t forget to stop into several of the multiple downtown galleries, which often have featured art exhibits for the car show. There are also a multiple number of excellent restaurants, exciting live music venues and fun late night hot spots to enjoy during and after the excitement of the show.
Every year, Car d’Alene features as an exciting and classic local tradition that brings the community together in a summer event that tops the list. In past years, friends have restored and gifted classic cars to each other, and couples have even gotten engaged at the show. Each year, there are many people who return to celebrate their anniversaries and share their engagement stories from Car d’Lane.
It’s always an incredible experience regardless of your age. Even if you’re not a classic car aficionado, the show is a fun-filled weekend that offers a variety of opportunities to connect with the community, explore the incredible downtown and enjoy a variety of classic—and new—cars you won’t find on the average everyday street corner.
To find out more, register or volunteer to work the event, visit CdADowntown.com.