It was another banner year for the Escalon Lions Club, as the annual Autumn Car Cruise saw nearly 300 classics come into town on Saturday.
The best part, said club members, is that the funds raised through the popular show benefit graduating Escalon High School seniors, in the form of scholarships presented through the Lions Club. The annual cruise is the biggest event of the year for the club and organizers said they were very pleased with this year’s show.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been handed out in scholarships through the years.
The first cars came rolling in about 7 a.m., and the classics filled up the majority of Main Street Park, along with some parked on Main Street. A portion of Main Street was also closed down to allow for vendor booths.
Starting out the day was a breakfast, served by the Escalon American Legion Post 263, and then auto enthusiasts of all ages had the chance to stop by the cruise and visit with those having vehicles in the show.
There were representatives from a number of different car clubs around the region, some soon-to-be classics still in the renovation stages, and some unique, one-of-a-kind entries.
By the historic caboose in the park, those who had purchased tickets for the many prize drawings kept up a steady stream checking out the winning ticket numbers to see if they were going home with one or more prizes.
Also, the multiple trophies to be presented were on display, with a number of categories offered and judges making their way through the rows of vehicles to choose their favorites.
“It’s just fun,” participant Vitor Stencil of Modesto said of putting his 1937 Packard in the cruise. “I was in the body and paint business for 50 years.”
Now retired, he was able to utilize his business expertise for his hobby.
“My grandkids grew up in the rumble seat,” he added of the Packard, chuckling.
Escalon residents Lee and Sandy Rigg were also on hand for the show, with their 1947 Mercury convertible on display.
“It’s all original but it has a V8 engine,” Rigg explained, adding that the color is classified as ‘Monsoon Maroon.’
Elsewhere, members of the Modesto Area Street Rod Association were enjoying the day, complete with lawn chairs and several pop-up tents.
“It’s the camaraderie,” past president Bob Huntley noted of the draw of car shows. “We get to see old friends.”
There was music provided by a DJ, the Lions Club put on a lunch, the prize drawings continued throughout the day and the park was packed with people enjoying the show.
Lions Club member and show co-coordinator Rien Doornenbal was happy with the way the day unfolded.
“For one thing, I think they like the ambience, we’ve got a nice park with a lot of shade, we have the use of Main Street because it’s blocked off and people can walk around,” he said of the nearly 300 participants. “And it has a reputation of being a fun show to go to and also the funds are for a good cause because we raise these funds for the graduating seniors from Escalon High, to hand out scholarships. Last year we were able to hand out 20 scholarships, each one worth $1,500 and that was from the proceeds of this show.”
The work to put the show together, he said, is a long-term commitment, as planning starts around January for the September gathering.
“To do it right, once the show is over in September, you wrap that up and then right after the first of the year, you need to start thinking about it,” he said.
A change in the way they parked the cars this year and handled the registration helped make for a much smoother start to the show, Doornenbal added.
He estimated that there were about 70 trophies to be handed out for participants as well.