34th annual event revs up with new enthusiasm

The Buena Vista Event Center board of directors is the new organizer of the 34th annual Buena Vista Car Show, previously orchestrated by the Arkansas Valley Car Club.

BVEC board treasurer Bea Harnish said the car club members “got old and tired and didn’t want to do it anymore. When it’s over we’ll be old too, but hopefully not too tired to do it again.”

This year on July 1, two blocks on Buena Vista’s East Main Street will be closed to traffic and become pedestrian only from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The car show is a fundraiser for the BV event center, a nonprofit with the goal of establishing an outdoor venue with a waterproof stage. “We have a long way to go,” Harnish said.
Currently the BVEC stage is next door to The Watershed. That stage is where the trophies will be awarded at the end of the day.

Harnish said most of the 47 cars in the show are from central Colorado, specifically Chaffee County, although at least one will be coming from Texas.
Frank Martinez of Buena Vista will bring two cars to the show, a ’65 Chevrolet Malibu Super Sport and a ’53 Chevrolet Club Coupe.

In the 15 years he has owned the two Chevys, Martinez has invested $31,000 in the Malibu and $17,000 in the Coupe. While he couldn’t – or wouldn’t – choose a favorite, he said the Malibu has three first place trophies under its timing belt. The Coupe has earned second- and third-place titles. The most recent blue ribbon for the Malibu was awarded at a car show in Alamosa. Martinez said he typically takes his cars to five shows per year, but this year he’ll only do three; the next one will be in August in Leadville.

Some highlights of the revamped car show include a flyover by the medical evacuation helicopter that resides at the Central Colorado Regional Airport. There will also be a 50/50 drawing and a “Push-Rod Drop” carnival game. Similar to the game of dropping a clothespin into a container, this version replaces the clothespin with push-rods from car engines. The winner of the game will win a free one-year subscription for the medical helicopter.

With 14 different categories and a People’s Choice award, contestants have a chance of bringing home a trophy or two. This year the trophies are one-of-a-kind, made by Blah Blah Blah co-owner Eric Walters.

As a longtime car enthusiast who happens to have a welder, Walters said he offered to make 15 trophies for the show. “The car show is in its 34th year. It would be a shame to see it die out. I wanted to keep it alive, so I’m doing what I can to help out,” he said. Walters is making the trophies from steel springs, gears, rods and transmission parts.

The show already has a good foundation but promises to grow even bigger and better in the future. Harnish said, “It’s our first year, we’re going to make all kinds of mistakes and learn from them.”