By Karl Klooster • Staff Writer • 

Revved up for year five

News-Register file photoCruising classics crowd Third Street during last year s GutFest.
News-Register file photo
Cruising classics crowd Third Street during last year's GutFest.

This weekend, the fifth-annual Dragging the Gut Festival returns in all its horsepower-laden, rock-’n’-roll loving glory. Activities begin this evening with the officially unofficial cruise-in.

This unscripted event had its beginning the very first year. Car owners simply showed up and started cruising Third Street, just as they did in the old days.

Like GutFest, itself, the Friday night tradition grew organically. It has now become an integral aspect of an authentically grassroots phenomenon.

On Saturday evening, owners of ultra-cool classics, sizzling hot rods and other vintage conveyances will be out in force. That’s sure to delight local and visiting auto enthusiasts, expected to appear en masse for the occasion.

The bottom line is this: Every year since GutFest began in 2010, the number of cars and people who have come to see and be seen riding in or looking at them has continued to increase.

It should be said, however, that such quantitative claims are based entirely on observation and guesstimation.

There are no admission fees to tally and no one is taking head counts. As with those who made the Third Street scene from the late 1940s through 1988, sheer size is in the eyes of the beholder.

Following is a detailed outline of what’s slated Saturday during the one annual McMinnville event that truly is a “happening.”

n Live music will be featured on the Dragging the Gut main stage at Third and Irvine from noon to 10 p.m. There is no admission charge, but donations to YCAP Food Bank would be greatly appreciated.

The lineup includes Beau “Beauthoven” Bryan at noon, a performer to be named later at 1:15 p.m., Myron Leroy & the Faithful Few at 2:30 p.m., the Vintage Knights at 4:30, Southpaw Speedway at 7 and NU SHOOZ from 8:30 to 10.

First formed in 1979, NU SHOOZ hit the top of pop charts in the mid-1980s. Husband and wife team Valerie Day and John Smith continue the band’s legacy, performing in the freestyle mode they perfected.

n Starting at noon, host Brian Eriksen of KLYC Radio will broadcast live from Third and Irvine via streaming video. Visit him there and you have a shot at being seen around the world.

n The Ezra Koch Car Show will run noon to 5 p.m.

Named for a local legend, civic leader “Ez” Koch, the GutFest car show will take place on the grounds of St. James Catholic Church. It lies at the eastern end of Third Street, across from the Jim Doran auto dealership.

Registration runs $15 per vehicle. Anyone showing up by noon gets in. Awards will be presented at 4:45.

Vehicles from the show will lead off the official Dragging the Gut start at 5. The first 200 will receive a commemorative dash plaque as well.

Like everything else associated with this grass roots event, admission to the public is free.

The seven award categories are: Kids’ Choice, People’s Choice, Coolest Car, Most likely to Get Pulled Over, Most Unique, Best American Graffiti Representation, and Best Gone in 60 Seconds Representation.

n The main event will run 5 p.m. to midnight. All comers are welcome, with no registration requirement.

All organizers ask is that you follow the official cruise route and obey all normal traffic laws.

If you can donate a bag of groceries to the YCAP Food Bank, it would be most appreciated. YCAP and the McMinnville High School Grizzly Dance Team will be there to accept food donations at carside.

n This year’s grand marshal, legendary Linfield coach Ad Rutschman, will cruise Third Street with his wife, Joan, at 7 p.m. They will be ensconced in a bright red 1966 Cadillac convertible.

In his 24 years at Linfield, Coach Rutschman never had a losing season. He is the only coach in the history of college football at any level to win national championships in both football and baseball.

Come out and see for yourself, dudes and dudettes. Getting in on McMinnville’s own homegrown salute to the glory days of gut dragging, on foot or four wheels, is sure to be a groovy experience.

And that’s what I found out while OUT and ABOUT — Getting fired up for the fifth time over the thought of admiring a mob of mighty muscle cars in cruising mode on Mac’s main drag.

Karl Klooster can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 503-687-1227.


While the Dragging the Gut Festival encourages cruising down Third Street, organizers are reminding people that all the usual traffic rules still apply.

McMinnville police will be ticketing people who don’t comply with motor vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian laws.

McMinnville allows drivers to cruise a street only three times during a two-hour period. “But don’t worry, you couldn’t break the law even if you tried,” said organizer Ruben Contreras. “There’s just too many cars cruising to go four times down there in a two hours period — there’s that many cars coming.”

“Burning out,” or peeling tires, is not allowed. Neither is revving a car to create smoke.

Pedestrians and bicycles should stay out of traffic.

More information about the festival is available at

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