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American Graffiti Festival

The 23rd Annual American Graffiti Festival and Car Show presented by the Kiwanis Club of North Modesto will be held on June 11 and 12 at the Modesto Junior College’s West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave., Modesto. This family friendly event will have rows of classic and vintage cars to explore and will also feature live entertainment, food, and craft vendors.

Brent Burnside, chairman of the American Graffiti committee for the past five years, noted that there will be over 15 food vendors and more than 50 craft and car-related vendors at the show.

“Folks just want to get out and live life and enjoy our weather here in the Valley and really just get out and enjoy the classic car culture,” said Burnside. “We will have great music with local talent on both days. MJC staff is working with us to pull it off with no glitches and I think if the weather agrees it will be a nice thing for everybody to attend.”

The festival begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and ends at 5 p.m. with the fun continuing on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $10 per person at the gate and children 12 and under are free.

“To have it back at MJC West campus is great because it is their 100-year anniversary for the campus,” stated Burnside. “It has a lot of remodeling and new administration buildings put in there. We are excited to have a classic car show on newly remodeled grounds of the MJC West campus. There are more sidewalks and nicer grass areas for the show cars to be parked in.”

The annual parade and cruise kicks off the weekend festivities at 6 p.m. on June 10  in downtown Modesto and then the classics will cruise down McHenry Avenue. The parade will feature 1,000 classic cars from 1979 and older.

Due to traffic congestion and the challenges for law enforcement, spectators, and car owners, organizers put a cap on the entries for the parade and they are hoping that 1,000 cars will be a successful number this year.

There will be live music on both days from local entertainers like Gary Gervase and Kick Start on Saturday morning; The Triple D classic rock band from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; Gotcha Covered from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and the Gathering of the Vibes featuring the area’s top musicians from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Great Valley Museum and planetarium has moved onto the MJC West campus and will be open on Saturday and Sunday.

Growing up in Modesto, Burnside recalls visiting the Great Valley Museum when he was in elementary school.

The Grand Marshall of the parade is Modesto City Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer. She is being honored for her many years of service to the community. The museum will only be charging $1 for those 2 days.

“That is a hidden gem,” Burnside said. “We would take a field trip to the Great Valley Museum when it was downtown. It is over the top now for kids to go experience it. That is what makes it even more family friendly. It is quite interesting to see how far they have come.”

Judy Herrero with the Marketing Committee for the North Modesto Kiwanis Club has been with the club for about eight years. Herrero shared that new to the festival this year, John D’Agostino, a well-known car customizer will be attending the parade and will have a booth at the car show.

“D’Agostino has numerous ‘kustoms’ at the Petersen Automotive Museum and has been inducted into the Academy Awards of Automobile Excellence in Branson, Missouri,” said Herrero.

Another highlight is that actress Candy Clark from the 1973 movie “American Graffiti” will be back for the parade and show, added Herrero.

On Sunday at the car show, Modesto’s Cars and Coffee group will have modern muscle cars and exotic vehicles on display.

 “We think young people, in particular, will enjoy these vehicles,” Burnside said.

The festival and car show will wrap with Classic Car Awards at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

“The thing I repeat every year and I think back about it, is just a reflection back in time when things were simpler,” shared Burnside. “The challenges in life were nothing more than work and family.”

For the past four years the festival and car show has been held at the Modesto Municipal Golf Course; however, prior to that it was held at MJC. Since the golf course is no longer being maintained they moved it back to MJC.

“Car owners put a lot of effort into their cars and do not like them to get dirty,” said Herrero. “You can’t just have a car show this size anywhere. It needs a lot of space. We approached MJC about coming back to the West campus and it is working out well.”

There will be shade and music so guests are invited to bring a camp chair and hang out during the event.

Late in-person car registrations will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 10 at the MJC Ag Building at College and Coldwell avenues. (The parade slots may all be filled by then, however.)

The Kiwanis Club of North Modesto is a non-profit 501(c)(3) with volunteers that serve the community.

“We are blessed that the city has worked with us over the years,” remarked Burnside. “Be patient, stay optimistic and come out and enjoy the best event that Modesto has to offer.”