By Kaitlyn Campbell
The Old U.S. 27 Motor Tour is coming back for its 17th year, and it’s going to be making stops in Clare and Harrison.
The motor tour is going to be starting in Coldwater and ending in Cheboygan, beginning on August 21 and going through August 27. The tour has occurred every third week in August for the past 16 years, and it visits a total of 13 cities in the span of six days.
The itinerary for the tour is extensive. First, on Monday evening, people will be arriving in Coldwater from 5 to 8 p.m., meeting up at Kilgore International before spending the night there at the Quality Inn.
Then the tour really kicks off the next morning. It goes to make a stop in Waterloo, Indiana to have lunch before coming back up to Coldwater to go to Adventure Zone. The evening will then be filled with ice cream and root beer at Shorts Root Beer Stand and another overnight in Coldwater.
The motor tour will leave for Dewitt in the afternoon on that Wednesday, with police escort, making a rest stop in Potterville and cruising into Dewitt at 5 p.m.
Thursday will be the busiest day of the week, with the tour making stops in five cities, including Clare. First it will go through St. Johns before going to Ithaca, Alma, and St. Louis. The last stop of the day will be in Clare, where participants will be visiting Four Leaf Brewing and The Venue at 501.
On Friday, the tour will leave Clare and go to Harrison. The people that are driving in the tour will get the chance to attend the Harrison Street Fair for a while before having to leave for Grayling in the afternoon. They’ll arrive at the American Legion there, and they will then watch some cloggers perform before staying the night.
The drivers will meet their final destination on Saturday. They will leave Grayling and cruise into Gaylord, visiting White Birch Outfitters before going to Wolverine and checking out Korner Gift Shoppe and the Downtown Market. They will then arrive in Cheboygan and go to the Cheboygan Brewing Company, stay at a hotel there overnight, have breakfast the next morning at Alice’s Restaurant, and drive home, signaling the end of the tour.
The Old U.S. 27 Motor Tour began as the “brainchild” of Craig Parrish. According to the Motor Tour’s website, “Craig was born in Lansing, Michigan to a family deeply embedded in the car industry and his love and passion for automobiles grew from that family heritage at a very young age (at the age of 4 he could identify cars by their taillights). In his teens, like most, he would drive his car to downtown Lansing and ‘Cruise the Gut’. Later in life, while reminiscing about how much fun they had on Friday nights ‘Cruisin the Gut’, he came up with the idea of restoring the cruise in the form of a car show during each summer months. He worked tirelessly with the City of Lansing and the downtown merchants to organize and host the Cruises during summer for ten years.”
Parrish was hoping that Old U.S. 27 would be marked as a historic highway, and it finally was.
“In the early 2000s, Craig had the idea to have Old U.S. 27 in Michigan become designated as a historic highway and went about making that happen. In 2010, that dream became a reality as the Michigan House of Representatives passed a resolution sponsored by Lansing Representative Joan Bauer to officially designate the route as a historic highway.”
Parrish came up with the idea of the Motor Tour and wanted it to be like the Route 66 experience. He went to cities along Old U.S. 27, asking them if they would be interested in “having their town participate in a week-long traveling car show with a police escort from one town to the next.” He would tell them “I will bring the cars and the people, you bring the party.”
The tour began in 2006 and it has become a summer highlight in Michigan for car enthusiasts and anyone wanting to come out, see all of the cars, and view a piece of Michigan’s history.
“Throughout the years, the Old U.S. 27 Motor Tour has helped to bring life to the small-town communities in Michigan as well as to bring people together to drive the old road, forge strong friendships and have fun together.”
Parrish passed away on July 29, 2021 from his battle with cancer, but his dream continues to live on through the Motor Tour.
If you would like to join in on the tour when it makes its stops in Clare and Harrison, the registration fee is $20, and registration will be open for the first hour that they are in each town. More information on the tour can be found on their website, www.old27tour.com.