Back to the Bricks likely a repeat event for Rockford
By BETH ALTENA
The beauty and charm of Rockford in winter was instrumental in the successful event which took place Friday, June 7 in downtown. Organizer Charles SeKrenes visited our town during one Ice Festival weekend and fell in love—with Rockford. He proposed making Rockford one of the stops on the Lakeshore to Lakeshore promotional tour for this summer’s upcoming Back to the Bricks (B2B) car show and extravaganza held annually in Flint, Michigan.
Friday’s visit by hundreds of car fans is part of an economic stimulus idea that brought Back to the Bricks to flint nearly a decade ago. As the town lost much of its auto manufacturing industry, organizers came up with a huge city-wide event to honor the auto history of the town and bring commerce to the area. It has been a huge success that now draws upwards of 400,000 people and lasts more than a week in downtown Flint.
The promotional tour for the event isn’t too bad, either. SeKrenes said he wouldn’t be surprised if there were soon multiple promotional B2B promotional tours running throughout the state independently, as you can only gather so many automobiles and their fans in one location.
With an emphasis on automobiles and history and with the purpose of promoting Flint’s event and bringing commerce to each town the tour visits, it is doubtful any community would fail to welcome with open arms the hundreds of car exhibitors. Those individuals, families or groups as they show off their vehicles, either vintage or otherwise cool, also buy dinner, shop and need a place to stay for the night.
Rockford’s first B2B invasion included hundreds of cars parking at the South Squires parking area and throughout town. From classic antiques to themed vehicles such as the breast cancer awareness car, there were many different types of autos to view.
Prior to settling in for the day in downtown, many of the exhibitors took advantage of a visit to a local automobile collector and restorer who showed off a private collection from his Belmont home. From there the tour settled in downtown and took advantage of many of the town’s restaurants and other establishments before heading out for a night’s stay and Saturday’s trip to Hart where the vehicles have become part of the town’s annual Asparagus Day Parade.
SeKrenes said he believes first-time visitors will be impressed with Rockford and all the town has to offer. He said he couldn’t believe how many restaurants and shops the town boasts when he stopped in during the Ice Festival.
“If everyone has a good time and likes it, it will be part of our route permanently,” he stated. As of press time, the week-long tour was still underway, so word has yet to be heard how the B2B visitors felt about the new daytrip destination of downtown Rockford. Doubtless they loved it.