Sometimes change can be bad; sometimes change can be good. But, one thing's for certain-like it or not, change is inevitable, be it in our personal lives or the world around us. Fortunately, for all concerned, we're happy to report that this is one of those times where change is a good thing-a very good thing, indeed.

The West Coast Kustoms' annual Cruisin' Nationals has traditionally been held in Paso Robles and its environs on Memorial Day weekend (with a couple of early exceptions) for some 26 years now. However, for reasons too involved and unnecessary to delve into here, it changed venues on its 27th year, moving to the beautiful California Central Coast city of Santa Maria, which welcomed this ragtag group of car guys and gals with open arms. Believe me, I know of what I speak, as I and other automotive journalists attending a press luncheon at the Santa Maria Inn on Friday were made to feel (by members of the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors & Convention Bureau) like we were coming home. To close the luncheon, this year's WCK Hall of Fame inductee, Darryl Hollenbeck, was announced and honored. They couldn't have chosen anyone more worthy. Congrats, Darryl, from the entire STREEET RODDER staff.

As for the event itself, there were two buildings filled with vendors to supply the realm of Kustom Kulture, selling everything from rod magazines, both foreign and domestic (The Rodder's Journal and many other U.S. titles, along with Nash Yoshi's Detroit Junk from Japan, whose Burnout and Hardcore Rod & Kustom periodicals dig deep into our traditional roots), and even the new 'zine format magalog.

There was also an indoor area set aside for pinstripers, where talented guys and gals laid lines on anything and everything, later to be auctioned off to benefit Alzheimer's research in Rich Pichette's name, cofounder and president of WCK, along with his wife, Penny. There was even vintage-style clothing and accessories from 8-Ball, Trophy Queen, and others, along with art from Weesner Studios, Gasoline, Dorr's Kustom Kreations, and several other well-known individuals and businesses in the lowbrow art scene.

Outside, Gene Winfield had his usual selection of just about everything kustom, including his new book, The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield, by David Grant, which he was autographing, as well. And, of course, Mooneyes had its impressive collection of first-class merchandise. Need a Moon tank? These guys have you covered. Hop back inside again and you'd find Don Graham putting on the Cruisin' Nationals' traditional model-car show in the convention center's spacious glass-walled lobby.

Then, of course, live bands like the Dynotones, Vicky Tafoya & The Big Beat, and Pork Chop Tom Blues Band (all of whom you can check out at www.myspace.com) entertained outside, center stage. Did I mention there were cars on the fairgrounds, as well?

Traditional hot rods and customs started arriving at the headquarters hotel, the historic Santa Maria Inn, early on. Arriving on Thursday afternoon, we found the hotel's parking lot facing South Broadway already teeming with activity, filling with exciting cars that couldn't even get into the fairgrounds until 7 a.m. on Saturday. To keep excitement high, there was a cruise through the beautiful Central Coast countryside to Los Alamos on Friday evening, viewing some of the most picturesque vistas California has to offer. When everyone pulled back in, the Inn's parking lot was the place to be well into the wee hours; even the local TV station had its remote broadcast van at the hotel. What a great place to hang out and soak it all in. This was turning out to be an event which would outdo even Paso itself-which it did when the fairgrounds opened on Saturday morning, and that, my friends, is sayin' a lot.

By Saturday afternoon, every nook and cranny of the fairgrounds were filled with cool cars, evoking the old saying about car shows, "If they're not there by noon on Saturday, they ain't comin'." And, man oh man, did they ever come. The West Coast Kustoms, thanks to Penny and staff, has found a great new home for its annual Cruisin' Nationals for years to come. Where will you be next Memorial Day weekend? We know where we'll be; we've already made our reservations at the Santa Maria Inn.