Special events
graffiti Summer

Welcome to Graffiti Summer!


Graffiti Modesto

Our hometown hero George Lucas was born and raised in the City of Modesto, graduating from Thomas Downey High School in 1962. Only a little more than a decade later, he co-wrote and directed one of the top-100 movies of all time.


Graffiti in ModestoAmerican Graffiti was released in 1973 with a great nostalgic look back at cars, music and teenage years, portraying an age of innocence in 1962. All the scenes in his great movie either happened here in Modesto or were inspired by events in our city. Mel’s Drive-In (in San Francisco) was just a stand-in for the real deals in Modesto, Burge’s on 9th Street and Al’s Drive-In on McHenry Avenue.

Both are gone now, but the memories live on, and Modesto continues to recreate its past glory as the classic car and cruisin’ center of the California Central Valley!


For years, Modesto has recognized and celebrated the era that George Lucas immortalized. For most of a decade, the celebration was limited to one or two major events:

  • “Back to Graffiti” began as a two-day car show and entertainment venue at the Fruit Yard, a great restaurant and produce market just outside Modesto!
  • The North Modesto Kiwanis American Graffiti Classic Car Show and Festival, which since 1999 has included a huge car show, and since 2002, a classic car parade that now rumbles through downtown and out McHenry Ave with over 1200 classic cars, street rods and hot rods!

Kiwanas Car Show

As the Events Calendar, we have built on those celebrations with new events, and our celebration of the days of cruisin’ and rockin’ will continue.

These are just some of renowned Rock’n’Roll Artists who have appeared at Graffiti Summer:

  • The Beach Boys
  • Little Richard
  • Frankie Avalon
  • Hank Ballard and the Midnighters
  • The Isley Brothers
  • Bobby Vee
  • The Diamonds
  • Frankie and The Fable Tones (including Frank from Vito and the Salutations)
  • Buddy Holly Winter Dance Party
  • The Big Bopper, Jr.
  • Roddy Jackson
  • Simply So
  • And more to come!

Graffiti Modesto


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