Annual car show pumps nearly $1.5 million into local economy

Cactus Jalopies returns

All signs are pointing to the biggest and best Cactus Jalopies car event yet, with 600 vehicles and at least 1,200 accompanying humans along with another 10,000 spectators all expected to descend on Osoyoos in early June.

The last event was held just prior to the pandemic in 2019 and it went very well with over 500 cars says Francine Launier, Promotional Coordinator for Cactus Jalopies and of course JF Launier’s mom.

“This year we’re already over 500 cars in the pre-registration so we anticipate there’ll be about 600.” More and more people do the registration online now, she adds and that means that even with barely a week to go registrations are still filing in.

All told the event brings in an estimated $1.5 million to the local economy she says.

Registrations are coming in from around BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan, and quite a number from Washington State, she says.

And oddly enough, she’s also seeing quite a lot from Osoyoos. “I’m surprised every time I see another one from Osoyoos. Where are all these cars? I never see them,” she laughs.

She says they could well be what’s known as “trailer queens”, cars that go to and from car shows via trailer and never actually drive anywhere.

The Cactus Jalopies car show was the brain-child 20 years or so ago of JF Launier, well known locally and far, far beyond as a sort of car guru. With his extensive facility near the airport in Osoyoos he turns cars into million dollar works of mechanical art.

It all started with one 1951 pick up truck when he was 14 years old that he and his father fixed up. He still has that truck and it looks amazing says his mom.

With his love of cars already under his skin he began attending regional car shows eventually deciding with a friend that Osoyoos needed one. The first one saw 300 cars registered - a huge success for the inaugural event - and the rest as they say, is history (still in the making).

Francine says the event has just naturally evolved from that first event which was held at the old Westridge Motor Inn across from Destination Osoyoos, to Kinsmen Park across from Rattlesnake Canyon, to the present Gyro Park location.

This year will see cars stretch from the bridge along the beachfront all the way to the Osoyoos Sailing Club.

This year will feature the Rust Valley Restorers, the motorcycle stunt riders and of course Chip Foose, the American automobile designer, artist, and star of Velocity’s reality television series Overhaulin’.

The fun kicks off on Thursday June 1 from 2-10 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion with a Show ‘n Shine welcome and registration featuring a beer garden and barbecue by the Legion. That night will also feature a Sunset Winemaker Dinner at Nostalgia Wines.

Friday will see a Garage Tour around the area culminating in Cawston at a well known farm that, as Francine puts it, “appears to grow cars!” This popular event is limited to 75 people and is already full.

Between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. a wine tour to seven wineries (organized by Nostalgia Wines) will take place. The welcome party also continues, this time at Gyro Beach Park with Rotary putting on the beer garden and barbecue this time from 4-9 p.m.

The big day will be Saturday with the Show ‘n Shine from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (entrance is free).

Awards will be presented at 2 p.m. and this year’s event is being held in memory of Carole Johanson, a close friend of the Launier’s and big supporter of the show who died last year.

This year also features a special section for those aged 25 and younger who will get their registration fee reimbursed in an effort to attract more young people to the hobby.

Although not part of the Cactus Jalopies, the Wine Country Racing Association will feature Drag Racing at the Osoyoos Airport on Sunday (June 4). Entrance is $5 per person.

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