Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 5:59 am | Fair 64º


Inaugural Car Show, Chili Contest Rev Up Excitement for Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara

Timing it to coincide with Fiesta and aiming for an annual event, army of club alumni organizes benefit for programs and services

A 1954 Chevy Bel Air owned by Anthony Perez sports a deep purple luster at the inaugural Fiesta Celebration and Car Show benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara on Sunday. Click to view larger
A 1954 Chevy Bel Air owned by Anthony Perez sports a deep purple luster at the inaugural Fiesta Celebration and Car Show benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara on Sunday. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

More than 40 hot rods, T-birds and lowriders filled the field behind the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon for the inaugural Fiesta Celebration Car Show and Chili Contest.

The event, whose proceeds go toward supporting the Boys & Girls Club, was organized by club alumni and spearheaded by Donna Reeves, the club’s development specialist.

Located at 632 E. Canon Perdido, directly across from the Santa Barbara High School baseball and practice fields and a block from Santa Barbara Junior High School, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara fosters relationships between adults and youth as well as providing them with a safe space for education and recreation.

“The alumni are a group of people who grew up in the club and have gone to do their own thing, but are still dedicated,” Reeves told Noozhawk.

“They decided they wanted to do something as a fundraiser, an annual barbecue sort of thing, and it morphed into a car show and chili contest.”

Classic vehicles from the 1940s through the ’70s glinted in the bright sunlight as spectators admired the waxed and buffed Ford Mustangs and Thunderbirds, Chevy Impalas and Monte Carlos, and more. Cars entered in the show were judged off of six criteria: body, paint, interior, engine, undercarriage and safety.

Seven winners were bestowed awards in categories based on the car’s decade of production.

Celebrity judges were on hand, including Lonny Speer of Counting Cars fame on the History Channel, and Len Hartmann, CEO of nearby Milpas Motors Auto Gallery.

Despite the heat of the day, chili was in high demand as Santa Barbara FisHouse, Cody’s Cafe, The Nugget and club alumnus Michael McLaughlin battled it out for first place in the competition. The contest’s celebrity judges, among them City Council members Cathy Murillo and Jason Dominguez, chose the FisHouse as the winner.

“It is a way to come together to help support the Boys & Girls Club, as well as tie into a ‘block party’ for Fiesta,” said Kim Kjar, the club’s athletic director. “We’re hoping to do it again next year and make it an annual event.”

Aside from chili, the alumni also grilled chicken, tri-tip and hamburgers, and provided soft drinks and beer in the parking lot. Providing live music throughout the afternoon were The Roosters and El Grupo Sismo.

Funds for the club were raised through car show admission, food and chili sales, a raffle and an auction. Ceramic bowls made by children at the Boys & Girls Club also were for sale.

Diana Oplinger, Boys & Girls Club executive director, noted that the event was “a fundraiser and a friend-raiser,” with spectators predominantly alumni and community supporters.

And since the Fiesta Celebration Car Show and Chili Contest​ coincided with Old Spanish Days, it included an appearance by this year’s El Presidente, J.C. Gordon.

Despite the chaos of trying to put on an event with just six weeks of preparation, Reeves considered it a success.

“There’s already a lot of interest for next year,” she said.

Click here for more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, or call 805.962.2382. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk intern Sarah Scarminach can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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