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 donuts 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 will 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 7-10 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).
As of this past Friday afternoon, Ferbrache said they had about 45 people preregistered. Most of those who participate tend to register on the morning of the event, some even deciding to head to cooler Philomath City Park as opposed to the hot pavement in Roseburg, for example. But 45 early registration actually isn’t too bad.
“I think we’ll probably have about 150 cars like we usually do, which is a real comfortable number here,” Ferbrache said. “We can get them spread out where they can put up their tents and it’s not real tight.”
Those who have attended the car show in past years will notice a lot of the same vendors, including Figaro’s Pizza for those who would like a bite to eat on site.
“That’s our only food vendor — we’ve kinda kept it that way for a long time because Ben and Amy Kesecker, who own Figaro’s, have been pretty incredible contributors to the community," Ferbrache said.
Other refreshment options, such as shaved ice or beer, will also be available. A few others will offer products and the American Legion Marys River Post 100 and the Marys River Quilt Guild — both of those organizations raffling off items to raise money — will participate.
If you had to push the group on what they call themselves, Ferbrache suggests Philomath Classic Car Show Committee. But really, it’s more of a loose group of small-town community volunteers that come together for a common cause.
Callahan, who helps with most of the administrative work, says it’s basically a “group of Philomath-area car enthusiasts and we’ve gotten together to put on this show.”
Although Ferbrache carries the chairman title among the car show’s organizers, he stresses the team approach to the task of putting on the annual event.
“We just share in all the duties as we do them,” Ferbrache said. “To us with the way that we’ve done this, we’re all co-equals on this.”
Ferbrache is in his 17th year volunteering for the car show.
“I’ve been kind of a car nut since I was 12 or 13,” Ferbrache said. “I went to Benton Polytechnic High School in Portland … and I majored in high performance automotive there. They had fabulous shops. I got the bug then and it was one of the reasons that I wanted to go to Benson rather than a regular neighborhood high school, I guess you’d call it. There were so many great opportunities for trades.”
After school, Ferbrache ended up getting out of that the automotive trade and ended up working for the U.S. Forest Service.
In later years, he got the urge to rekindle his love for cars and inquired about how he could help with the show.
There are other who have seniority on Ferbrache when it comes to the volunteering, such as Rod Holland, who does the announcing, and Jeff Johnson, who provides music.
“I think it’s just become an addiction — I don’t know what else to call it,” Ferbrache said about his involvement. “And really, honestly, we don’t know the solid future of it. We’ve been doing it for so long and people have expected us to do it year after year after year.”
Callahan and Ferbrache both intended on giving up their involvement with the car show last year but when it came time to organizing it all, neither one of them could stay away.
“The group that we have that’s all working together — it’s a great group,” Callahan said. “We communicate well, there’s no animosity, there’s no talking behind your back. We’re just doing stuff together and it’s a good group.”