A beloved community event that drew thousands of locals and visitors alike has revved up vintage car lovers and the local economy for the last time.
Northwest Deuce Days founder and chief organizer Al Clark announced on social media this week that the event has run its course, 22 years after the first show and shine.
Although he made reference to bike lanes in his social media post, Clark told Black Press Media the sheer size of the event – spread over four days with nearly 1,400 entries in 2019 – and an aging volunteer corps were key reasons for shutting it down.
“To tell you the truth it got too successful, it got too big and was too much to handle,” he said, noting that he had more or less decided after the 2019 festival that it would be the last.
“When we first started, I never thought in my wildest dreams it would get as big as it did. It takes us two years to start planning it all and the last six months before the event is pretty much full time.”
Overall, Northwest Deuce Days was held nine times, eight of which were in Greater Victoria, and grew every year. Recent events included large contingents from Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as the east coast of the U.S. and around Western Canada. One car owner even shipped his vehicle from New Zealand to L.A. then drove up, Clark said.
The event has a significant impact on the hospitality industry, with hundreds of related visitors frequenting hotels and restaurants around the region in its later editions.
Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey said his organization is “disappointed to see the organizers are not planning to hold another event.” He reported the 2019 event brought 1,100 visitors to the region and created $1.3 million in economic impact.
“Al Clark did an amazing job organizing the event and attracting people from all over the world to come to Victoria,” Nursey added.
Having settled into a three-year rotation, the next Northwest Deuce Days would have been held in 2022.
Clark, who talked about stepping down after the 2016 festival, said he has been approached by someone from Vancouver interested in staging the event there. While he doesn’t doubt that would be well attended, Clark worries it might lose the atmosphere cultivated in Victoria.
He expects to miss hosting the event in future, but admitted that “now’s the time to go out on a high note.”