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Car show makes a little history of its own

History-rich Jacksonville will be the new setting for this year’s 11th Annual Fall Classic Car Show, presented this weekend by the Rogue Valley Corvette Club. A favorite of Southern Oregon car enthusiasts, the show has outgrown each of its previous three venues.

“We started at Heritage Motors in downtown Medford in 2006 and we outgrew that,” says Dan Richards, one of the club’s founding members. “Then we went to Airport Chevrolet but ran out of room there, too. After that, Town & Country Chevrolet in Ashland partnered with us but we still needed more room so we started brainstorming about possible locations and decided Bigham Knoll Campus in Jacksonville was the perfect place.”

The picturesque 7.5-acre campus will provide a spacious grassy area for the show cars, a play area for kids, miniature golf and bocce ball.

“We’ll have the Schoolhaus Brewhaus restaurant, Papa Terall’s BBQ and a beer garden,” Richards says.

There will be a variety of car-related vendors and activities for kids.

“We really see Bigham Knoll as a more family-friendly venue, whether you’re a car nut or not. It’s going to be a totally different vibe than we’ve had in the past.”

The Fall Classic will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Bigham Knoll Campus, 525 Bigham Knoll Drive, Jacksonville. Registration is from 8 to 10 a.m., and the show is open to cars and trucks of all makes and models — from customized classics to modern stock.

“That’s one of the beauties of the Fall Classic,” Richards says. “We keep it open to whatever kind of car someone wants to bring.”

Which might explain their exploding number of entries.

“Our preregistration has gone through the roof this year, almost double what we had a year ago at this time. We think we’ll probably have around 200 cars, but we’ve got plenty of room and it will be so much cooler on the grass than on the asphalt.”

Over the years, Richards says they’ve drawn cars from as far north as Seattle, as far south as central California and as far east as Idaho.

“We don’t do any paid advertising. It’s all word of mouth, just people telling people what a great time they had at the show,” he says.

The 95-member club spends all year gathering thousands of dollars' worth of raffle prizes, which in the past have included NASCAR tickets, weekends in Reno and local food and beverage packages with wine tours. Raffle and 50/50 tickets are available, Richards says, and one recent 50/50 winner pocketed nearly $600 cash.

“Every year we try to come up with a display of something unique,” Richards says. “We want people, whether they’re car enthusiasts or not, to walk away thinking, 'Wow, that was cool.' Like the year we featured seven generations of Corvettes.”

This year Richards says they are working with local and regional car owners for a collection of some unique, high-end Fords and Chevys.

“This display will be comparing ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ muscle car rivals,” says club chairman John Warren. “Like Shelby vs. Corvette. We will have a ‘69 Shelby GT500 sitting next to a new Shelby GT500. There will be a 1971 Corvette sitting next to a brand new C7 Z-06 Corvette. I think the display will get a lot of attention.”

“We put a lot of effort into making sure folks have fun and we never charge an admission fee, but,” Richards chuckles, “we work them pretty hard to get their wallet out because we’re all here to raise money for SkillsUSA. Our participants and the general public have all been very generous, so we’ve seen some great success in that program.”

The SkillsUSA program assists high school students in Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties learn skills, compete for scholarships and advance to higher levels of education. Over the years, Rogue Valley Corvette Club has raised around $75,000, which Richards says has translated into almost $5 million in college scholarships.

Through a dedicated team effort, the RVCC has made this show a success.

“We have fine-tuned things along with way. We have borrowed what we thought were good ideas from other shows and implemented them into ours. For instance, we have folks who have really nice cars but for some reason, may never have won a trophy. At our show, everyone goes home with a beautiful participation plaque to hang on their wall. We think it’s a nice way to remind them that they helped some kid get to college,” Richards says.

After 11 years, Richards says the club feels the show has earned its own bit of history.

“We think it’s cool that we’re going to be holding this in a historic town at a historic facility like Bigham Knoll. We’re excited.”

Corvettes line up at a past Classic Car Show. Photo by Dan Richards