Somernites Cruise season begins this weekend, powered by LS engine showcase

Apr. 24—For nearly a quarter of a century now, April has meant the start of the Somernites Cruise season. That tradition returns this weekend.

It's Year 24 for Somerset's own classic and custom car show, a two-day event that has helped transform the landscape for similar shows elsewhere, and this month's showcase features not a particular car, but what goes inside it.

The LS, or Luxury Sport, engine has become a popular piece for hot rod builders and enthusiasts, and has developed a strong enough following that Somernites is starting the season with the LS Showcase for the second year in a row.

"There was a such a good response that we decided to try it again," said Somernites Executive Director Keith Floyd. "It's just the new engine; it seems like everybody is putting it in hot rods now. The aftermarket has picked up and is offering a lot of parts for it and it's just made the swap a lot easier.

"You're seeing that motor not only in the Camaros and Corvettes and things like that but you're also seeing them swapped into the vintage Novas and Chevelles," he added. "... You see them in everything now. It's just crazy."

He noted in particular that the LS engine in popular among younger hot rod fans, making this showcase geared toward a demographic that's maybe a little bit different for Somernites and its more classic displays.

"We want to continue to involve (them), so that's another reason we do it," said Floyd.

In Pulaski County, farming has long been a way of life, and no vehicle symbolizes that quite as much as the tractor. Thus the appeal of the Somernites Cruise Vintage Tractor Display, which will also be a part of this weekend's show in downtown Somerset. Floyd expect anywhere from 15-25 to line the streets as part of the opening month festivities.

Another April feature is the Jeep and 4X4 Display, sponsored by the Kentucky Hillbilly Jeep Krew.

"We are expecting 30-35 Jeeps, 4X4s, Broncos and Blazers and trucks," said Floyd. "We've got a good mix of vehicles in that display, so we're excited about seeing that."

For regular Somernites attendees, the 2024 season t-shirt design will be unveiled this weekend, a must-have collectible particularly for those who grab them every year. The 2024 raffle car — a 1956 Chevrolet 210, sponsored by Don Franklin Chevrolet Buick GMC — is a true blast from the past that will also become coveted by Cruisegoers starting this weekend, who can buy chances at it at each show of the year for $10 each. Other vehicles to be raffled this year include an 18-foot Gatormade trailer, and a 1992 Chevrolet pick-up truck to be given away in July.

Things get underway Friday, April 26 with the "Burnside Meet & Greet," presented by the City of Burnside, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cole Park off of South U.S. 27 in Burnside, allowing an opportunity for early arrivers to start socializing and enjoying all that Somernites has to offer, and then those interested can leave there at 2 p.m. for a "Rattlesnake Run" tour of scenic Ky. 192.

That evening, Friday Night Thunder will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Somerset Mall with live music, food, cars and all kinds of fun for all ages.

Saturday morning, April 27, Cruisers can meet at the South Hardee's location (stoplight no. 22) for a free breakfast, then depart for the monthly "Fun Run" in their vehicles, this time to one of the area's greatest natural wonders, Cumberland Falls.

"That's always a fan favorite," said Floyd of the Cumberland Falls trip.

Gates open for the main show downtown at noon Saturday, it lasts until 6 p.m. Then attendees will take to the U.S. 27 "Strip" for the closing component of Somernites — a cruise down the highway with plenty of spectators lined up along the roadway.

Streets in downtown Somerset will be closed by 10 a.m. Saturday morning to set up for the show; vehicles in that area should be moved to a non-Somernites inhabited area so the Cruise Team can set up, reminded Floyd.

"We're just expecting a great show," said Floyd, who thanked all the Cruise sponsors, without whom the show wouldn't be possible, he noted, and entities like the City of Somerset, Pulaski County Government, City of Burnside, and of course the vendors, participants, and devoted fans who make Somernites Cruise what it is and come in great numbers each month.

"Very few events have the longevity that we've had, especially events that do it seven times a year; most events are once a year," said Floyd. "Basically ... it's like us doing a one-time-a-year show for 150 years. So just the sheer longevity is amazing."