Cruisin’ Days marks 30 years; Event begins Thursday

By David Talley | Published Wednesday, October 11, 2017
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Looking Back

LOOKING BACK – Members of the Newark Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary hold a scrapbook with photos from early Crusin’ Days. The event marks its 30th year when festivities begin Thursday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

It’s been nearly 30 years since the first participant filled out their bingo card at Newark’s annual Cruisin’ Days, but the community fixture has remained largely unchanged across three decades.

Just like in the 1980s, bingo cards cost 50 cents, and the event still includes a barbecue dinner, dancing and a parade. Over the years, it’s also grown from one day to three to include carnival rides, music, pageants and a car show.

The celebration begins this Thursday with carnival rides opening at 6 p.m. The theme this year is Elvis.

“It started because we needed something for our community to come together and raise money for our fire department,” said organizer Sherry Edgemon. The Ladies Auxiliary has organized the event since its inception and profits from the Cruisin’ Days still go to the fire department thanks to donations from local businesses and individuals.

“We get about $5,000 from local businesses and people,” said organizer Kathy Darter. “That covers all of our expenses, so everything that happens Thursday through Saturday is all profit, and we’re able to give the fire department a big check.”

Those funds are used to buy the department necessary vehicles, gear and training, Edgemon said.

Newark natives from the area make the event a reunion, but Edgemon said its notoriety has spread to the point where members of other communities regularly come out to enjoy the fun. The event is family friendly, alcohol-free and always features good music, she said.

“It’s a family event. People come up, and they eat sandwiches in the park and play bingo,” she said.

Despite that, Edgemon recalled several years after the event started someone erroneously called the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to report that organizers were engaging in gambling and selling beer at the event.

“So the ATF showed up here when we were decorating Friday night,” she said. “They said we couldn’t play bingo without a license, although it’s 50 cents a card and all the prizes are donated. I opened the book and showed them the prizes. The lady drilled me about it for an hour while two men stood behind the door back there. I think they were embarrassed. They thought we had beer and all this illegal stuff and here we had bingo and crocheted items for prizes.

“Now we do it by the rules. We’ve even got bingo permits,” she said.

Organizers are expecting a large turnout from South Wise and beyond.

“It’s surprising when you go out there, how many people are from here and how many know about Cruisin Days,” Darter said.

The event continues Friday evening with the carnival opening at 6 p.m., and bingo beginning at 7 at the fire hall. Carnival ride armbands are $20. Saturday’s parade is at 10 a.m., and the carnival opens at 10:30. Bingo runs from 11 to 3 p.m., and the Mr. and Mrs. Cruisin’ Days Pageant is at 1 p.m.

For information on the pageant, call Dawn Killough at 817-692-4959. The car show starts at 2. Dinner is served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Awards are at 6, and the dance is from 8 to 11 p.m.

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