Cruisin' the Coast delights participants and truck enthusiasts

A love of off-roading or pickup trucks had to start somewhere, and for many drivers it's a passion that is rooted in their childhood memories. Whether your first car was a restored pickup or you learned how to tinker with automobiles thanks to a truck that needed some work, there's a good chance you have some sort of history with these classic vehicles. Because many of these automobiles have since left the roads, there are only a few opportunities to get a look at the models, but some of the shows and festivals that feature these old school trucks are definitely worthy of a visit. 

Set along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Cruisin' the Coast has quickly transformed itself into a can't-miss event for auto lovers. The most recent edition, held in early October 2013, was certainly one for the record books - and it may even convince truck fans to plan a trip in the future. 

A valued tradition
Throughout its 17-year history, Cruisin' the Coast has become one of the most popular events for classic car lovers and truck enthusiasts in the U.S. When it began, the celebration featured about 300 vintage automobile, but that number swelled to nearly 7,100 classic pickups and hot rods in 2013. The vehicles cover a 30-mile routes that snakes through Mississippi, allowing thousands of spectators a chance to check out the cars and even get a feel for how some of them drive. 

"Part of the attraction is we are a driving event so they get to drive their cars," registration director Lisa Burnett told The Sun Herald. "It's all along the beachfront and we get to see some beautiful scenery. One thing that keeps popping up is the friendliness of the people and the Southern hospitality they encounter here at the venues, restaurants and hotels."  

Classic trucks steal the show
Whether you're looking for a chance to get ideas for renovating your own truck or just want to see what types of truck mods are being done on these vintage vehicles, this event could be the perfect destination. According to PickupTrucks.com, the majority of the trucks date back to the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with many of the models boasting special customizations and personal touches that make them unique. 

Truck lovers who attended the most recent running of Cruisin' the Coast were in for a treat. Of the 7,100 vehicles that made up the 2013 event, many were revamped trucks. That provided a trip down memory lane for many visitors. 

"I had one gentleman tell me it's like eight days of being 18 again," Burnett told The Sun Herald. 

Car auctions, races, social gatherings and swap meets fill the rest of the days, providing plenty of options for auto lovers to get their fill of vintage rides. 

The next event
It's not too early to register for the 2014 edition of Cruisin' the Coast. Next year's event, which will be held Oct. 5 to 12, has already opened Early Bird Registration, allowing interested parties to sign up and reserve space for themselves and their cars in this stellar festival. 

One thing is for sure: Newcomers will have to compete for space with returning drivers, many of whom find Cruisin' the Coast to be among the most enjoyable auto show experiences. 

"This is our fifth year coming here," Dan Heard, a festival participant and classic truck owner, told PickupTrucks.com. "The friendliness at the venues, restaurants and hotels is great. Everyone we've encountered are just so nice and really makes us feel welcome here."