Hot July Nights showcases both sides of this town’s past and present
This is a tale of two types of horsepower: My four-legged horse, General, and Phil Pogue’s 1937 Dodge Rumble Seat Coupe – with the power of about 245 horses – in 100 Mile House, BC. Both were fun to ride (I got the rumble seat in the coupe) and both showcased the Cariboo region, past and present.
I was in the area to learn about the Hot July Nights car and bike show. It’s a free, family-friendly event that attracts vehicle enthusiasts from across the northwest to 100 Mile. The town, will host a show n’ shine, hot rods (and rat rods), muscle cars, classics, restoration projects and more. If it’s got a motor and you can drive it, you’ll probably find it at Hot July Nights.
My first stop however, was where horsepower originated. I traded bucket seats for saddles, hub caps for horseshoes, steering wheels for reigns.
I pulled off Highway 97 and rolled up to a big red barn where I met with Pat Corbett, former owner of The Hills Health Ranch (now Spruce Hill Resort). In 2015, Pat and his wife Juanita were the first and only Canadians to be inducted into the Spa Hall of Fame (by Washington Spa Alliance). And, he’s been riding the nearby land for over 50 years.
Surrounded by 20,000 acres of Cariboo wilderness and 150 kilometres worth of ranchland trails, we rode through a canopy of aspens and came to a clearing with vast meadow, marshland, and one of many of the hundreds of lakes in the area. The landscape was spotted with free-range cattle, who weren’t bothered by our presence at all, and lent us their likeness for some pretty epic photo opportunities.
Back at the ranch, I hopped off General – a gentle and well-behaved horse who does occasionally like to nibble on wild Nootka roses along the trailside – and turned the ignition on my rental car to make my way down to 100 Mile.
I met Pogue along with Hot July Nights organizer Ralph Myhill-Jones and his partner Gina at Jackson’s Social Club & Brewhouse in 100 Mile House. The craft brewery and tasting room is located in an old auto garage and repair shop, with a motor car theme throughout.
Pogue has owned his coupe since 1975. It was because of his love of his beauty of a classic that he got involved with Hot July Nights in 2009. Whether you’re part of the show n’ shine, or you’re showing off a current restoration project, everyone loves viewing these impressive pieces of automotive history.
Out in the parking lot, I felt a bit like a Dick Tracy-era gangster post-heist as I jumped into the coupe’s rumble seat for a ride down to the festival grounds at Centennial Park. Instead of a Tommy Gun or a giant bag of cash with a dollar sign on the side, I held out my GoPro to document my ride – and the giddy grin across my mug – as we cruised down Birch Avenue.
Once through the gates, I made my not-so-graceful exit from the rumble seat and walked around the park to get an idea of how Hot July Nights was going to get the place hopping.
“We want to keep everything really accessible,” Gina said. She explained there is no admission fee for spectators and that the park’s natural elements keep families busy beyond even their awesome entertainment lineup. There’s a full playground, a creekside beach, and forest hiking trails into a refreshing waterfall.
Of course, the main attraction is the lineup of impressive vehicles. “They look for bling. Bling always wins!” Gina laughed, mentioning a sparkly purple paint job can always impress crowds. One of her favourite parts of the festival – aside from the rat rods which she admitted she’d love to own one day – is that you can get in the cars, touch them, and engage with owners to really enjoy these mechanical wonders. Some are even for sale!
Whether your dream is to roam the range with a trusty steed, or check out the lines on a smokin’ Studebaker, 100 Mile House has all the horsepower you need during Hot July Nights.
The cars are parked at Centennial Park for the Show and Shine along the creek. Don't forget your camera.
100 Mile House is found along Highway 97 north of Kamloops. The community is within the Cariboo Regional District, home to a bounty of adventures and history - take a driving tour - this will help http://www.cariboord.bc.ca/services/heritage
Sure you can go here and visit, but we challenge you to visit and think about moving - rural community livng puts a whole new spin on life. This website will inspire you to investigate more: http://www.southcaribootourism.ca/
For more on the Cariboo region and all the things to experience, search on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram #ExploreCariboo
Visit the official festival website for more information www.hotjulynights.ca, other attractions and places to stay.
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