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Vintage cars and music on tap as Reno launches 32nd annual Hot August Nights festival

Reno’s biggest festival, Hot August Nights, begins this weekend.
Reno’s biggest festival, Hot August Nights, begins this weekend.

In 1986, a fleet of classic automobiles made an appearance on the lawn of Reno’s Rancho San Rafael Park.

The cars were being shown off by their owners and, as expected, onlookers oohed and aahed. It was the start of the first Hot August Nights, a celebration of classic rock and roll and cars.

This year’s 32nd annual outing of the event, Reno’s biggest street festival, will kick off on Sunday, recreating the first opening.

Prior to that, Virginia City will celebrate Friday and Saturday before the party settles into the streets of Reno and Sparks through next Sunday. Almost all hotel-casinos will host show’n’shines and other competitions and free entertainment as well.

The first target audience of the festival, those who waxed nostalgic for the cruising ‘50s and the dawn of rock and roll, the be-bop-a-lula crowd, has grown smaller and the party has grown to accommodate those who came after, the harder rockers, even the one-time denizens of the discos.

Highlights this year include:

The Vintage Trailer Revival on Aug. 8 with participants showing off their 1976-and-older trailers at Rancho San Rafael in front of judges Justin and Anna Scribner of the Travel Channel’s “Flippin’ RVs.”

Free entertainment in the parking lot of the Grand Sierra: Eddie Money on Thursday, Starship on Friday and Kool and the Gang on Saturday (8:15 p.m.)

Competing free entertainment at Victorian Plaza in Sparks: Michael Furlong’s Tribute to Tom Petty on Thursday, The Greg Kihn Band on Friday and Ambrosia on Saturday (8:15 p.m.) For the full schedule, go to

Meanwhile, off the streets, classic music is everywhere this weekend.

TOTO and their “40 Trips around the Sun” tour arrive at the Grand Sierra in Reno on Saturday. The identically-named greatest-hits album was released last month and gives a good idea of the under-appreciated impact this band has had with its members having played on more than 5,000 albums by themselves and other artists (8 p.m.; $39-$66;

The Village People’s current incarnation will play at a pool party at the Grand Sierra Friday (8 p.m.; general admission $25 at the door).

Of the original Temptations, only Otis Williams remains and it is his group, not a spin-off, that plays the MontBleu Friday, covering the astonishing range of the repertoire, from the ground-breaking “The Way You Do the Things You Do” through the harder-edged “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” to the romantic period of “Treat Her Like a Lady” (8 p.m.; $50-$60; Ticketmaster).

The MontBleu also hosts its annual Hops in the Yard Beerfest Saturday (1-5 p.m.; outdoor events center; 21-and-over: $25); and the unique rapper Matisyahu, whose eighth album was just released, his personal journey chronicled in an eight-song cycle called “Undercurrent,” takes the stage Saturday (8 p.m.; $27-$32).

And it’s a big weekend at Thunder Valley with country powerhouse Brad Paisley playing to an undoubtedly packed house Friday with Rachel Steele guest-starring (7 p.m.; $64.95-$199.95;; and “Soul Fest ‘18” Saturday with a great lineup headed by the Whispers and Midnight Star, playing Saturday (5:30 p.m.; $49.95-$159.95).