After controversy, Roseville cemetery car show is canceled

ROSEVILLE - Roselawn Cemetery caretakers say they're still interested in bringing people to the grounds under more cheerful circumstances than a burial, but negative feedback has convinced them that classic cars are not the right vehicle to reach...

Ron Steave tidies up his wife Margaret's gravesite in Roselawn Cemetery in Roseville, Tuesday, August 16, 2016. Steave's wife Margaret is buried at the cemetery and Ron will be too when he passes away. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

ROSEVILLE - Roselawn Cemetery caretakers say they’re still interested in bringing people to the grounds under more cheerful circumstances than a burial, but negative feedback has convinced them that classic cars are not the right vehicle to reach that goal at this time.

The Roseville cemetery’s board of directors voted to cancel plans for a car show this weekend after community members voiced objections. The board announced the decision after a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The car show, organized as a benefit for the Minnesota Street Rod Association college fund, was planned for Saturday on an unoccupied field that serves as a buffer between Larpenteur Avenue and the nonprofit cemetery’s gravesites.

The cemetery board said there were good reasons for holding a car show on that part of the grounds, where the activity would not interrupt other visitors. The show would have introduced new people to the cemetery and it would have been “one small step in our efforts to make cemeteries less intimidating and forbidding,” the board said in a statement after the meeting.

“A car show is the sort of event that has been done successfully for years at other cemeteries around the country and it seemed like a good way to invite people out to enjoy a beautiful Saturday in a charming, out-of-the-way part of our campus,” board president Scott Spaeth and cemetery superintendent Larry Hudella said in the statement. “Even so, we believe those reasons must be subordinated to the concerns voiced. ... Any positives we might gain would be more than offset by the knowledge that we had caused someone distress.”


The Street Rod Association will have people at the cemetery Saturday to share the news with car buffs who don’t get the message. They have no plans to try to relocate the show elsewhere.

Organizer Ron Steave said they meant well but he understands why the cemetery board voted to cancel, given the backlash. He said he has felt some of that lash himself.

But he still doesn’t quite understand the fuss. He said the show wouldn’t have been any more disruptive than the cars and buses going by on Larpenteur. And it was meant as a tribute to the street rodders buried there.

“I don’t think this was sacrilegious or anything. My wife is in there. I’ve got a lot of friends in there. It was a tribute to them,” Steave said.

The cemetery board said it never intended anything disrespectful or disruptive, and it plans to make a contribution to the Street Rod Association’s college fund to make up for canceling the show. It also plans to host an open house to discuss ideas for appropriate ways to connect with the community.

Nicole Roatch, one of the people who first objected to the planned car show, said the board invited her and other concerned community members to take part in the meeting when it’s set. She said she understands their desire to present the cemetery grounds in a brighter light.

“It’s a beautiful cemetery and they really do put in a lot of work to maintain it,” Roatch said. “I believe the community should experience it in appropriate ways.” 



Jaime DeLage / St. Paul Pioneer Press

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