HICKORY CORNERS — Denny and Ellen Buursma waited in line outside an authentic 1941 diner before being handed a pair of soft-serve ice cream cones.
The couple from Yankee Springs was enjoying a Wednesday night cruise-in at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, where they parked their 1976 Camaro among rows of classic and exotic cars. The free weekly event drew hundreds of auto enthusiasts to the scenic 90-acre campus.
“I’ve had (the Camaro) since 1979,” Denny said. “Had our first date in it and we’re still together.”
The free weekly cruise-in is one of a number of events and programs planned by the nonprofit at 6865 Hickory Road in rural Barry County, about 18 miles west of Battle Creek. The campus features six partner museums, with more than 400 vehicles and over 190,000 square feet of exhibit space. It is open to the public 361 days a year.
“The warmer weather is finally here. It’s definitely the start of our busy car show, concert and event season,” said Josh Russell, Executive Director of The Gilmore Car Museum. “It’s a world-class museum; one of the finest automobile museums in the world, right here in our backyard. Events like these expose folks to all the things going on at Gilmore Car Museum… It gets people who maybe haven’t been out here before or who weren’t aware of the collection get to tour the museum, learn about our programs and ride the classics.”
Ride the Classics is a program offered to museum guests via donation, where they take rides in vintage vehicles through the campus. It is offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from May until September.
The museum’s event season kicked off May 7 with a Mustang and Ford show, and continues Saturday with a tripleheader featuring a vintage travel trailer rally, a vintage watercraft show and a corks and crafts tasting event.
In addition to having live music during special events such as the Wednesday night cruise ins, the Gilmore Car Museum will be hosting “$40 car load” concerts this summer, featuring a number tribute bands.
The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals “Muscle Car Meetup” on June 25 will feature music from tribute band Led Zeppelin 2. The event will essentially rev up fundraising efforts to bring a muscle car museum to “dealership row” at the property, after plans to open a Gilmore Muscle Car Museum were announced in 2019 before the pandemic forced the nonprofit to put the project on hold.
“We had to do what we needed to do to help the museum operate as it was, and fundraising was hard in the midst of a global pandemic,” Russell said. “We’ve gotten some terrific donations, commitments and pledges, but we still have more than halfway to go before completing fundraising before shovel in the ground.”
Russell added that the muscle car meet up in June will serve as the counterpoint to the annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals event held in Chicago in November. Proceeds from the event will benefit the muscle car museum fund.
“(The MCACN) want every dollar that is raised in terms of show car registration in the muscle car museum construction fund,” Russell said. “Because they want to see that built here in Hickory Corners on the Gilmore campus and be a central feature of the campus forever.”
For more information visit gilmorecarmuseum.org or call 269-671-5089.
Reporter Nick Buckley can be reached at [email protected] or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
GILMORE CAR MUSEUM
• May 14: Vintage Travel Trailer Rally; Boats at the Barns; Corks and Crafts tasting event
• May 21: All GM Super Show
• June 5: Full Classic Car Show
• June 11-12: Vintage Motorcycle Weekend
• June 18: Volvos at The Gilmore; Air Cooled Gathering
• June 25: MCACN Muscle Car Meet Up
This article originally appeared on Battle Creek Enquirer: Gilmore Car Museum gears up for busy summer, eying muscle car expansion