Still cruising: West Fargo Cruise Night remains popular
A number of factors may make it one of the best-attended, including the allowance of alcohol
WEST FARGO — Some say it's the West Fargo community spirit. Some say it's a rarity because cars can actually cruise. Others say it's the allowance of alcohol. Whatever may be the reason, West Fargo's Cruise Night continues to draw thousands each third Thursday of the summer.
At the first and second 2022 West Fargo Cruise Night, held Thursday, June 16, and July 21, hundreds of classic and unique cars, trucks and motorcycles lined up along Sheyenne Street while visitors in the thousands flocked to West Fargo's downtown, The Downtown Yards on Sheyenne. The numbers of both vehicles and attendees are quickly returning to those of pre-pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. In 2020, Cruise Night was held in the later months and social distancing efforts were enforced. In 2021, Cruise Nights were held on southern Sheyenne Street as ongoing construction affected the usual route along Sheyenne Street.
"It kind of felt like the event was coming back home," West Fargo Events Executive Director Mike Amundson said. "To be back downtown in West Fargo was terrific. All of our spot sales were sold out and we had a ton of classic cars out there. We had a really good turnout. It's hard to get an accurate count when we have the street fair layout of cruise night but it was in the thousands."
Each third Thursday in June, July, August and September, vehicles are allowed to cruise Sheyenne Street from Main Avenue to Seventh Avenue West, as attendees can walk along the street and visit parked display vehicles or grab some food or drink from the West Fargo VFW and food and drink vendors that set up near the POW/MIA Plaza.
Cruise Nights have been drawing visitors and vehicles from around the region for decades.
For West Fargo City Communications Director and West Fargo native Melissa Richard, there are likely a number of factors that have led to West Fargo Cruise Night’s longevity and popularity.
"First, it’s one of the only events that allows cars to actually cruise," Richard said. "This is a major differentiating factor that is enjoyed by the car enthusiasts who attend. Second, Toppers Car Club is a critical partner who helps promote and coordinate the event. It’s a great partnership that ensures we are putting on an authentic Cruise Night that the community and enthusiasts can enjoy."
Richards said the city's Downtown Yards on Sheyenne businesses and neighborhood have really embraced the event and continue to allow it to be successful.
"It’s a great sacrifice to bring thousands of people into your front yard each summer and shut down your major access road. But they understand the value in bringing community together and giving visitors a unique West Fargo experience," she said.
Richard added the city has also made sure the event has evolved with changing conditions over the years to make sure it continues.
Although both Fargo and Moorhead have hosted similar "cruise night" events for the car and truck lovers, West Fargo's annual events have continued to be the biggest draw in the metro.
While the sheer size of West Fargo's Cruise Night is a draw for some, one rule sets West Fargo's event apart from other metro events and that is the city's allowance of alcohol on the street during Cruise Nights.
While West Fargo does have an ordinance that prohibits the public consumption of alcohol in commercial areas, the ordinance is waived each month for The Yards on Sheyenne. Of course, drinking and driving is still not allowed. Despite the availability of alcohol, only one major accident has been recorded. At the first Cruise Night, a driver who had been drinking before the event, drove to Cruise Night and hit two collector cars.
The remaining 2022 Cruise Nights will be held Thursday, Aug. 18, and Thursday, Sept. 15.