I think that just like any experience in life these shows and cruises are what you make of them.
I live about an hour north of Philadelphia in what you would call the suburbs. Within 15-20 miles of me there are tons of shows and cruises from mid-April through early October. Being a guy who has a wife, 2 kids, a job, a home, ect. it's pretty much impossible to attend EVERY event. I try to pretty much do one a weekend of at all possible but I'm usually scheduling car cruises around cutting the lawn, my sons baseball schedule, my daughter's track meets and horseback riding competitions and anything else that pops up. When I do finally get a Saturday night opportunity to get into my Chevelle, put the top down, and row through the gears, frankly I don't worry about whether some stranger at a show calls it a Chevelle or a GTO.
There are 2 large local shows that my buddies and I attend. Each show draws well over 500 cars and the towns they are held in close down the Main Street allowing people to walk down the street to view the cars. I enjoy these shows. I normally go with a group of about 5-10 car guys and we chill, talk cars, meet up with other car guy buddies, see old friends, look at the hot girls, ect. For us it's much more of a social event than it is about earning a trophy or worrying about what every Tom, Dick, or Harry thinks of our rides.