Riccardo Sestito and his vehicles will be back for Langley Good Times Cruise-In 2021. (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)

Riccardo Sestito and his vehicles will be back for Langley Good Times Cruise-In 2021. (Dan Ferguson/Black Press Media)

Re-opening plan presents open road for Langley Good Times Cruise-In

Director Riccardo Sestito said organizers are ready to bring back annual car show to Aldergrove

It’s a go.

Riccardo Sestito, director of the Langley Good Times Cruise-In, confirmed that Western Canada’s largest charity car show would be back for 2021.

“We’ve been very tight lipped in planning the cruise-in,” he revealed. “We’ve been meeting since the start of year and talking with the Township just in case something like this did happen.”

The “something” Sestito refers to is the recent provincial health office announcement that COVID-19 restrictions would begin to lift in coming months – including the return of indoor dining at restaurants, indoor gatherings between friends, families, and co-workers, as well as the allowance of smaller scale events.

Through a four-step re-opening plan, at least 70 per cent of the 18-plus population vaccinated with their first vaccine dose, plus low case counts and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations, will allow the province to enter Step 3 by July 1 – meaning fairs and festivals can operate with a COVID-19 safety plan in place.

“It worked out because our deadline to have a plan in place was going to be this July,” Sestito explained.

In order to iron out a few details, he did note that the Cruise-In date will likely happen in late-August or early-September.

“The biggest problem we’re having right now is bringing In-N-Out Burger,” he noted. “They’re ready to come, but we’re not sure what border crossing clearance will be like.”

He added that celebrities that attend have been in limbo waiting on Sestito’s word on if the show would go on. Now, the real fun begins.

“It will be as if we didn’t skip a beat,” he assured. “We’re exactly at the same spot on our calendar as we would have been without COVID.”

The annual display of cars has survived for nearly a quarter century with a team of 200 volunteers facilitating a lineup of hundreds of new and restored cars in support of Langley charities.

The only other cancellation of the Cruise-In was in 2010, after controversy ensued over burnouts occurring that same weekend in Langley City.

Since moving to Aldergrove in 2017, the event has included multiple stages with musical performances, vendors, and a crowd anywhere between 25,000 to 50,000 people.

While Sestito said the Cruise-In committee is still keeping an eye on COVID-19 restrictions and understand anything can change, he said they are planning on good news.

“I think we’ll be the first big event of the year,” Sestito said.

One last hurdle for the Cruise-In is to collect sponsors to fund the event.

“There’s no money, we have nothing,” Sestito said. “It’s all been given away. We’re going to reach out to sponsors, but we know its been tough for everyone. We’ll apply for grants too. We’ll do what we can to make it happen.”

People can get involved by visiting langleycruise-in.com.

READ MORE: ‘Our hands are tied’: Langley Good Times Cruise-In announces cancellation due to COVID

Though the Cruise-In may be one the the largest events Langley Township has to offer, it’s far from being the only one making a comeback in 2021.

Aldergrove Fair Days are set for Aug. 28 and 29 in a hybrid format – meaning COVID-19 protocols will be in place. Organizer Karen Long noted the event is still in planning stages.

“Aldergrove Fair is hosting a Drive Thru Fair at MacInnes Farms (250 Street and 72nd Avenue),” Long explained. “We have live agricultural and heritage demonstrations lined up, interactive entertainment, animals and more plans in the works.”

Tickets sold by ‘carload’ will be available for pre-sale only – due drop ins will be allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions that require the management of visitors on-site at one time.

People can visit aldergrovefair.ca for more or get involved as a volunteer by signing up at bettercommunity.ca.

Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival organizers had announced plans to move the event from July to September, due to province-wide COVID-19 restrictions from the provincial health office just one month ago.

The 2021 festival was set to be a mix of limited capacity, socially distanced live shows and live-streamed events from Sept. 2 to 5.

Now, executive director Karen Zukas, said more focus on live music and larger audiences are in their midst.

“Given the restart plan, the music and arts are coming back. We’re excited and hopeful. It’s the light at the end of a long tunnel.”

Unfortunately, while easing restrictions do make it easier for some summer events to take place, it’s too late to start planning for some local staples.

Summerset Music and Arts Festival planned to go ahead in August, but the provincial health office’s restart plan didn’t come soon enough for organizers to proceed.

The three-day festival organized by Red Door Events first occurred in 2019 at the orchard of Fort Langley National Historic Site, where musicians including Paul Brandt, The Trews, April Wine, and others took the stage.

The 2020 event was postponed and reconfigured multiple times – including a drive-in style event – until it was eventually cancelled.

Organizer Paul Verhoeff noted that three smaller-scale concerts are being planned for the late-summer, including one in Fort Langley.

Teri James, executive director of Downtown Langley Business Association, which holds the annual Arts Alive Festival, said that is an event that takes a year to organize and attracts upwards of 30,000 people.

“In light of this, we have made the difficult decision that we believe is in the best interest of the organizers, vendors and attendees to bring it back even bigger and better in 2022, once all restrictions and maximum gathering numbers have been lifted,” James told The Star.

Metro Vancouver confirmed there will not be a Country Celebration in 2021 either, but the regional parks department said it’s optimistic about having the Campbell Valley event back for next year.

Other events further down the road in 2021 are still in limbo; decisions on annual fixtures like Heritage Apple Day and the Fort Langley Cranberry Festival will be made later on in the year.

With the provincial plan only just beginning and the official start of summer still weeks away, many organizers are quick to point out plans could change for either better or worse.

Have a story tip? Email: newsroom@aldergrovestar.com

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