For some volunteers at the Philomath Classic Car Show, this coming Saturday morning will get started before sunrise.
Participants will begin lining up before the event officially opens at 7 a.m. for registration. But through the efforts of volunteer Jane Callahan, they’ll be greeted at the early hour with free doughnuts and coffee.
Throughout the day, those who take part in the show renew friendships while showing off their classic vehicles. A good number of folks make the run to Philomath every summer. And when they leave after the awards are handed out in the afternoon, they'll get a friendly wave good-bye from the event’s volunteers.
Now in its 22nd year, the classic car show serves as a visual of friendly small-town America.
“We get a lot of people that come year after year,” said 68-year-old Adrian Ferbrache, who is among the longtime organizers. “It’s just a local show and they like being here and visiting with other people. We all recognize a lot of them — like, ‘Oh, there’s the guy with his Studebaker.’”
Feedback that organizers take in from the event is typically positive. The volunteers appreciate the participants and have added a new way to show it at the show’s conclusion.
“One of the things that we do that we hear none of the other car shows do is at the end of the show when the cars are leaving, the crew, us volunteers, we go out to the front and we wave good-bye to them and thank them for coming. They seem to appreciate that," Callahan said.
This year’s Philomath Classic Car Show opens to the public at 9 a.m. and runs to 3 p.m. Car owners can register from 7 to 10 a.m., and the awards are announced at 2 p.m.
Contributing to the small-town atmosphere is the car show’s location at Philomath City Park.
“We get a nice breeze and it’s grass instead of pavement,” Ferbrache said. “So many shows are on pavement — parking lots. The one in Roseburg is a beautiful show but you know how Roseburg can get in mid-July — it’s 110 in the shade and no shade.”
The car show features 18 judged categories, including modified/custom cars, stock cars, convertibles, imports/sports cars, custom trucks, stock trucks, vehicles “under construction,” junior/youth, “rat rods” and special interest vehicles. Judges vote on the “Fab 5” and one vehicle earns the “Best of Show” distinction.
There are also special categories, such as “contestants choice,” “people’s choice,” and best interior, paint, engine, flames and pinstripes.
One change that past attendees may notice involves the T-shirts. In the past, those had been provided as part of the car show’s registration fee but they’ve had such a negative impact on the organization’s bottom-line fundraising efforts that they had to go into a different direction.
“We have a photographer now, which has been really well-received,” Ferbrache said. “Rather than doing T-shirts again, we’re just having a professional photographer this year. This is the first time that we’re not doing T-shirts. They’re really expensive and everybody’s got a half-dozen of the things.”
Organizers said they dropped the cost of the registration fee, which is $25 (a discount of $5 for those who signed up early has expired).