Although the rest of Spirit Valley Days was canceled in mid-June, one element of the annual West Duluth festival will continue this summer — albeit with a new location and a new name.
The Smalley-Moen Memorial Car Show will be held on the car show's original time and date, 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 29. The car show usually takes place on a section of Grand Avenue in the Spirit Valley neighborhood, but this year, the venue has changed to The Buffalo House, 2590 Guss Road.
Car show organizer Carmen Smalley said she hopes the venue change will make things run more smoothly.
"Our timing is more flexible. We're not shutting down a public street or getting city permits to have police officers patrolling intersections," Smalley said. "And it's at a place that held a special place in my dad's heart."
The car show is held in honor of Kyle Smalley, the show's longtime organizer and car enthusiast, who died in 2015. This year, Carmen Smalley decided to add "Moen" to the title in honor of Jerry Moen, another key figure in the classic car community, who died July 1 after a 12-year battle with cancer.
"His family has been close with ours forever," Smalley said. "It seemed like the right thing to do, based on the relationship that Jerry and my dad had. He’s been close and loved me like one of his own daughters since my dad died. We have this cheesy thought: They’re together in heaven now, causing a ruckus up there."
Moen's death was another motivation for Smalley to continue the event despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes it gives people a chance to connect socially while still observing safety precautions.
"A car show is a limited contact event as it is. It's about looking rather than touching. It's outside and should be fairly easy to socially distance," Smalley said. "The big thing for me will be no hugs. It'll be tough to not be hugging everybody, but I feel like people understand at this point. It's more common sense."
As usual, the car show doesn't have an entrance fee, for either the participants or observers. No registration is required. There will be staff in T-shirts guiding spectator and guest cars to appropriate parking areas. The Buffalo House will host a stand for food and drinks.
Overall, Smalley said she hopes her father would appreciate the car show continuing this year.
"I feel like he'd be proud of us for continuing to give people the opportunity to have some necessary social interaction — responsibly, of course," she said. "Now we just need the weather to hold out. But no matter the weather, it always turns out to be the best day of the year."
This story originally included an incorrect link to the 2020 car show's Facebook event. It was updated at 10:13 a.m. July 24 with the correct link. The News Tribune regrets the error.