West Richland revs up for an ‘all wheels’ event

The community is about to find out what happens when you combine the Tri-Cities’ most popular classic car, street rod and motorcycle shows.

The West Richland Area Chamber of Commerce jumped in to take on organizing Cool Desert Nights car and street festival, along with its wildly popular West Richland Hogs & Dogs Regional Family Festival, now in its 19th year.

The action-packed, four-day festival runs June 20-23 in West Richland and Richland.

It only made sense to combine the two events into the same week, said May Hays, executive director of the West Richland chamber

“We feel the two events will complement each other and become the most amazing regional event ever,” Hays said.

The Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce announced in October 2017 that it was stepping away from running the annual Cool Desert Nights after 2018, saying the event no longer aligned with its mission of supporting businesses.

That’s when the West Richland chamber stepped in.

“I took it to the board right away,” Hays said. “We are a smaller chamber.”

But it’s also an enthusiastic one.

The West Richland chamber agreed to take over the annual hot rod and car show, shadowing the Tri-City Regional Chamber members during last year’s Cool Desert Nights to learn the ropes.

And now they’re ready to roll.

The key idea, Hays said, is getting the motorcycle people involved with the car people. That’s why there will be motorcycle events during Cool Desert Nights.

“The thought on Hogs & Dogs was how do we incorporate it into Cool Desert Nights,” Hays said. “I think these extra events will help.”

Having the two events coincide with each other means a lot of work for the organizers.

Josh Hanson, co-chairman of Cool Desert Nights, has jumped in by meeting with numerous car clubs to listen to members’ concerns about past events.

“The initial struggle was some of them letting go of the past,” Hanson said.

The numbers of cars entered into the Cool Desert Nights competition had dropped to 330 in recent years, down from an all-time high of 1,015.

Hanson listened to complaints. One concern was that there were too few categories.

That’s been remedied.

“There used to be 10 trophies handed out for Cool Desert Nights,” Hanson said. “This year there will be 25 categories. And there will be four awards per category. So, we’re looking at 110 to 120 awards.”

To make the event even more family-friendly, Hanson said the Kids Zone has been expanded, moving it to the Uptown parking area by the Spudnut Shop.

“And as far as food trucks, we have a lot more room for food trucks,” Hanson said. “We’re hoping to have 12 to 15 food trucks, including some kid-friendly ones.”

Hays said they’ve done their homework for this year.

“Josh created a page on social media. He’s worked with vendors,” she said. “We did surveys last year before Cool Desert Nights, and surveys during Cool Desert Nights. We’ve been gathering names of people to help. And the city of Richland has been fantastic. We shadowed the people in Richland last year.”

Hanson said his organization is ready to start its engines: “The West Richland Chamber of Commerce has done a really good job of establishing a community-driven chamber. There is a lot of enthusiasm for this. Our goal is for this to be a big event again.”

Hanson and Hays would like to up the car count by more than doubling the number of entrants from last year.

“I’d love to see 750 cars, and people raving about the show,” Hanson said.

Schedule of events

On June 20, the Hogs & Dogs Regional Family Festival rumbles into town from 4 to 10 p.m. at the Bombing Range Sports Complex in West Richland.

Hogs & Dogs will continue its motorcycle drawing. Tickets cost $10 for a vintage Harley Davidson 1978 FXE HD, built by Tri-City Cycle Works. The drawing, which is a major fundraiser for Combat Veterans International, runs through Nov. 9. The winning ticket will be drawn at West Richland’s Veterans Day Parade.

Also on June 20, the first Cool Desert Nights event kicks off from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Richland Dairy Queen on Jadwin Avenue with a Show N’ Shine. Afterward, head across the street to the Emerald of Siam restaurant at the Uptown Plaza to hear the Roostertails Band and watch a pinup girl pageant.

On June 21, Cool Desert Nights highlights include a Les Schwab Tire Center Poker Run for classic cars; a Salute to Scoots for Fallen Rider Fund for motorcycles; a participant-only city cruise; and a party in the park.

On June 22, there will be a Kiwanis pancake breakfast; a classic car Show N’ Shine; a motorcycle Show N’ Shine; a fly-over of a World War II plane (around 10 a.m.); an Uptown merchants’ poker walk; an expanded Kids Zone; and another party in the park.

The four-day fest ends June 23 with an Autocross event, hosted by the Sand & Sage Sports Car Club.

Gesa Credit Union is the presenting sponsor for Cool Desert Nights, which is in its 26th year at the Uptown Plaza.

For more information or to register for the Show N’ Shine events, go to westrichlandchamber.org.

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