It was 1986 when Carolyn Gleason first came up with the idea: A weekend filled with vintage cars and rock ’n’ roll music, in celebration of a time when bobbysox, saddle shoes and poodle skirts were the style.
But when organizers first hosted Sandpoint’s Lost in the ’50s weekend way back when, they were skeptical whether they could attract enough people to make the celebration a success. Time has proven there was no need for concern.
Gleason said the idea stemmed from her desire to bring a bit of Motown and people like Bobby Vinton, Fabian and other music legends from the ’50s to this corner of the world that does not typically have the opportunity to see the big names.
“I told people the ’50s are not dead. As eras go, some die out and some don’t,” said Gleason, who vowed to bring in old-school rock ’n’ roll. As years passed more and more events were added to the weekend lineup.
But Gleason knew she needed more than just musical entertainment to draw people in. She and a friend came up with the idea of vintage cars. And to make it happen, Gleason went door to door, asking those with vintage cars to bring them to the event.
“We had 26 cars in the first car show,” Gleason said. By the third year there were more than 150.
As Lost in the ’50s marks its 25th anniversary next weekend, it will host fans from North Idaho, Eastern Washington and across the country.
“We have people from all over including Florida, West Virginia and Manitoba,” said Gleason.
The weekend kicks off on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Sandpoint’s Panida Theater with the Best of Rock ’N’ Roll Heaven starring several impersonators including Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.
“The person who is the Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator is currently performing on Broadway,” said Gleason.
The historic downtown Panida Theater seats 550 people and this kickoff event is always a sellout.
Other musical entertainment this year will feature Herman’s Hermits, starring former teen idol Peter Noone, singing songs such as “There’s a Kind of Hush,” “Mrs. Brown, You’ve got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am.”
Herman’s Hermits will perform at 7:30 Friday evening at the Bonner County Fairgrounds along with Rocky and the Rollers.
“It is a concert and a dance,” said Gleason.
But that won’t be the only chance next weekend to kick up your heels.
There will be dance and show at the Bonner County Fairgrounds at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring Rocky and the Rollers along with bands such as The Contours, Bowzer and the Stingrays. Tickets are $30 each night or $52 for both shows.
For those who love vintage cars, the traditional car parade will take over the downtown streets on Friday at 6 p.m. Organizers invite all owners of vintage and classic cars who wish to participate in the parade to meet at the Sandpoint High School parking lot no later than 5 p.m. Friday.
After the parade there is a street dance co-sponsored by local radio station 106.7 The Point downtown on Main Street.
And for those car enthusiasts who want a chance to enjoy a closer look at the cars and wander the streets of downtown, there is a car show Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
The weekend will wrap up with the traditional Aspirin Rally 5K Run starting at Second Avenue Pizza on Sunday at 10 a.m. It will be followed by a car rally at 11:20 a.m. Co-sponsored by Sandpoint’s running club the Cardio Junkies, registration is $18, which covers both the run and the rally.
By Sunday morning Gleason and her volunteer crew – most of whom have been with her for more than 20 years – are tired, but it doesn’t take long for them to recover and start planning the next year’s event.
“What keeps me going are the people and their stories,” Gleason said. “They make it all worthwhile.”