April Cruise starts season with good weather, solid turnout

Apr. 27—The sound of rumbling engines like thunder on the horizon. Brightly-colored paint jobs dotting the downtown landscape. And people — so many people — taking to the streets of Somerset.

All sure signs of the return of Somernites Cruise.

Somerset's own classic and custom car show returned for the start of its 24th season this weekend, packing downtown with vehicles and visitors alike. One potential guest didn't arrive, however, and that was rain, which posed a threat going into Saturday but managed to pass by Somerset and allow for favorable — if occasionally cloudy — conditions for the April show.

"The weather's been nice," said Somernites Executive Director Keith Floyd on Saturday. "... I found out it (had) been raining in the northern part of the state, so we're good. ... It came through a little south of us. Monticello got wet."

The showcase this month featured the increasingly popular LS engine and vehicles that utilize it, the second year for that particular display, and Floyd was happy with the way that newest addition to the season line-up has developed.

"I think we had about 100 (cars in the showcase), which is good, we're happy with that," said Floyd, noting that the turnout was similar to last year. "We've got a bunch of nice cars."

Floyd also said the show had a "great Jeep and 4X4 display," sponsored by the Kentucky Hillbilly Jeep Krew, and "cool tractors" in a special area in front of the courthouse dedicated to the iconic piece of agricultural equipment.

Sam Daniels, owner of Sam's Transmission in Somerset helped the Cruise team pull together the vintage tractor display — and brought one of his own, a 1940 John Deere Model B which Daniels said many call an "old putt-putt" tractor with a two-cylinder gas engine and a hand clutch that has been well-traveled on the show circuit.

"Keith is always so involved with everything, and he gave me a holler and said, 'We know you're a member of another tractor club, and we're bringing in a lot of vintage tractors,' so I reached out to some of my buddies," said Daniels, a member of the Southeast Kentucky Antique Tractor Association out of Rockcastle County. "I just like seeing all this old vintage stuff, and it just fits right in with a lot of these old cars and trucks. ... The club likes it here and they're going to keep us on, and that's good."

There were eight total tractors at Saturday's Cruise event, and although they're working equipment, they're not as dissimilar from hot rods as one might think — Daniels observed that many owners customize them the same way others do their cars.

"Farming has been in my family for years, and we've always had some type of old tractor," said Daniels. "We go to a lot of tractor shows. I just love being involved in any type of antique farming (event). ... There's always something that's needing to be done (to them). You'll see some that are all original ... but you see a bit of a mix of both (with custom jobs), just like you would the cars."

In all, the April Cruise saw 923 cars come through the downtown gates on Saturday, with attendees coming from as far away as Michigan this month.

"It (was) just a good opening day," said Floyd, "the kind we like."