BATH — For over a decade, one of the most widely attended events at Heritage Days brings car lovers from across the state to Front Street for the annual Front Street Shuffle.

The show shuts down the entire street for several hours as everything from impeccable original antiques to rusty rat rods line up on display.

“It’s unique. I don’t think there’s any other place in Maine that does this,” said Lee Patenaude, who has been involved with running the show for over a decade. “We close the main drag of a main street of a town, plus we have a carnival that’s going on down at the waterfront.”

The Front Street Shuffle isn’t a typical car show, with judges and classes of cars. It’s classified as a “cruise in,” where people can show up, park their car, and hang out with other car lovers.

“It’s very laid back,” said Patenaude. “So many of the guys and gals that have cars really love the event and look forward to it.”

The event was originally started by Joe Byrnes, who passed the mantle of managing it to Bill King. King has supervised the event for a long time, and often brings cars of his own. “We’ve all managed to keep it going,” he said.

The event has never been about a particular make or model; it’s more about car people sharing their mutual love of automobiles.

“We don’t have voting to see who has the most popular car, they can just come and have fun,” said King. “You see a very good cross-section of classics.” He’s been a collector of antique cars for a whole, and typically brings two from his collection each year. This year, he’s hoping to bring a 1918 Dodge touring car and a 1953 MG TD Roadster.

The event has steadily grown over the years, to the point that they rarely advertise for the event for fear the street will be too packed with cars. According to Patenaude, they’ve had as many as 125 cars or more show up at a time, filling the whole street and some parking lots beyond.

“As long as there’s a nice day, we’ll have that place packed by 9:30 or 10,” he said.

Patenaude has been into cars since he was a kid. “I used to go to Sanford dragway, and I used to have a friend of mine whose father had a filling station. We got involved with cars, and that’s where it started. We just got hooked on those cars, that was our thing. It wasn’t girls, it was cars!”

He saved money to buy a new ‘62 Chevy Impala back when he first started working, and later after a stint in the service he saved up to buy a brand-new ‘65 Corvette. “I wish I still had that today,” he said.

At the Front Street Shuffle, Patenaude plans to bring his ‘34 Chevy Coupe, painted bright viper red, that he bought from a friend who purchased the car in Georgia. “It’s high-end, and never something I would have been able to afford if that guy hadn’t sold it to my friend,” he said.

For King, the best part of the event is the mix of all ages of both cars and people that come to enjoy the show. “You see papa or grandpa who likes to take the kids down to the show in the car he used to drive around in, and show them it’s cool. When the fire department brings the antique fire engine and the kids get to climb up and ring the bell and sit behind the big steering wheel, that’s a big memory for a lot of kids.”

Car guys look forward to it almost as much as the kids do. Patenaude said he gets plenty of questions at other shows he goes to. “There will be at least 10 or 15 cars there already by 7 a.m.” he said. “We all have something in common: We love cars.”

The Front Street Shuffle runs this year from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday on Front Street. Cars come and go throughout the day, so attend early if you want to see them all.

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