There were a few slump years, but Reno’s Hot August Nights has been back on track for some time, and ranks as one of the country’s top classic-car events. This weekend marks the culmination of its 28th year, long after the naysayers said that Reno was just a gaming town and couldn’t host a crowd-packed car show and that a nostalgic interest in cruising and sock hops would eventually die out.
They were right that initial audiences eventually moved on in years, but they failed to realize that love of classic automobiles and early rock ’n’ roll passes on from generation to generation.
Just witness the big-money sums paid for vehicles at the distinguished Barrett-Jackson Auctions, which showed up in Reno for the first time last year. The auction has returned this year, as is scheduled for today and tomorrow at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. (Tickets are $17; the auction be broadcast on Fox Sports and National Geographic and streamed live at www.Barrett-Jackson.com).
Many of the usual suspects are also back when it comes to entertainment. There must have be something to a youth spent dancing with Annette Funicello and Ann-Margret and the likes, because Frankie Avalon re-teams with Bobby Rydell and Fabian at the Silver Legacy tonight (8 p.m.; $65.50, $80.50; www.silverlegacy.com). And bound to be one of the most popular concerts at the event is the Beach Boys Saturday at the Silver Legacy (8 p.m.; $59.50, $79.50, $89.50).
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Free entertainment is everywhere; practically every casino is hosting a retro band in the cabaret or parking lot. Two centers of activity are Victorian Square in Sparks (with a nod to country as Daryl Worley sings at 8 p.m. tonight, and Felix Cavaliero’s Rascals play at 8 p.m. Saturday) and the Grand Sierra parking lot (where Kraig Parker does his Elvis show at 8 tonight, and the Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley returns at 8 p.m. Saturday.)
There are also drag races (6:30 to 11:30 tonight and Saturday night in the Nugget parking lot); “show-n-shine” displays and competitions all over; and the big parade, which has featured anywhere from 800 to 1,800 vehicles (10 a.m. Sunday in downtown Reno).
Music of a different nature will fill the Tahoe air beginning tonight and running through Aug. 17 as the annual SummerFest gets underway in the tent on the Sierra Nevada College campus in Incline Village.
Tonight’s concert features Metropolitan Opera tenor Matthew Polenzani. The accompanying 40-piece orchestra has musicians from the San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver symphonies. (7 p.m.; $25-$75; for a full schedule, go to tahoesummerfest.org)