Take me out to the… car show?

In Yuma, Arizona, when the baseball team left, the locals used the ball fields for the Midnight at the Oasis classic car festival

Yuma, Arizona: Site of one of the early Colorado River crossings for people heading West to California gold (the kind you mine) and, more recently, the golden dunes you explore on off-road vehicles; home once-upon-a-time to the famed Arizona Territorial prison and more recently to a U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (the area’s largest employer); and the spring training home of the then brand-new San Diego Padres baseball team from 1969 until…

Until the end of spring training in 1993, by which point the Padres had announced they were moving to suburban Phoenix to be closer to the teams they were playing in the annual Cactus League spring training period.

The Padres had been a major drawing card for visitors to Yuma and the locals weren’t happy about losing the team or the income it brought to town for six weeks late each winter.

26th annual Midnight at the Oasis festival  | ClassicCars.com Journal | #DriveYourDream | #ClassicCarNews

Each vehicle gets it own lined and numbered parking place. Volunteers spend an entire day before the festival marking out those spots — 940 of them — on four baseball fields

So, in the spirit of let’s not be sour, let’s make lemonade, a local group of businessmen, the 100-strong Caballeros de Yuma, decided to fill the void with, among other things, a classic car festival (not just another car show but a full-scale festival) patterned after Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada.

Fortunately for Yuma, organizers of Hot August Nights were flattered and sent a team to Arizona to share their game plan, right down to naming the event.

Turns out that Hot August Nights wasn’t named because of the mid-August weather in Reno but after a piece of music, well, several pieces collected in the 1972 Neil Diamond double-record album. So, in line with Yuma’s desert location, someone suggested Maria Muldaur’s 1973 hit Midnight at the Oasis as the new festival’s title.

26th annual Midnight at the Oasis festival  | ClassicCars.com Journal

Forty Fords, all in a row, line up in the outfield

This past weekend, the Caballeros and a long list of other civic groups and sponsors staged their 26th annual Midnight at the Oasis festival, with four days of classic car cruises and shows and live music concerts. Te shows and concerts took place at the Desert Sun Stadium and Ray Kroc Complex, the very location where the Padres used to hold their spring workouts and games.

Though not a fancy-shmancy concours d’elegance, this festival of cars, music and food has become a very big deal, attracting thousands of people and filling four baseball fields with 940 cars, because that’s all the room available.

It costs $105 to enter your pre-1973 collector car, but that entitles you to a reserved parking place on the show field, plus admission for two to all of the concerts. Typically, all 940 placed marked for cars are claimed within a few days of registration opening for the following year’s show.

By the way, the 2019 dates are February 28-March 3, and if you want to show your car, your entry form cannot be postmarked before April 1, 2018, but you want to get it submitted as close to that date as possible.

For more information, visit the Midnight at the Oasis website.

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