Noe Magaña is a BenitoLink Intern Staff Reporter.
A 1941 Plymouth Coupe won the 32nd Street Festival Car Show & Chilli Cook-Off’s Best of Show on Saturday, July 21. Santa Cruz resident John Gimelli’s coupe will be featured on next year’s festival posters, fliers, and shirt.
An estimated 8,000 attendees were treated to free watermelon, music, and dance performances on different stages throughout the event. Among those performing in the South Stage, located on the corner of Seventh and San Benito Streets, were youth groups Animation Dance Community and Grupo Folklorico Carisma Mexicana. On the North Stage, located on the corner of Fourth and San Benito Streets, the Kevin Hamm Band played for the audience.
Several vendors offered a variety of food and snacks to visitors including baked potatoes, hamburgers, sandwiches, fruit, and kettle corn. Others were selling jewelry, solar garden art, and clothing.
For the second year in a row, the Hollister Fire Department canceled its Chilli Cook-Off due to their efforts in controlling multiple fires blazing across California.
This year’s festival had 250 registered vehicles, breaking last year’s record of 235, said Jeana Arnold of the Hollister Downtown Association.
Nine volunteer judges from Hollister assessed the vehicles in 18 different categories like Best Paint, Best Interior, and Best Preservation.
Hollister resident Randy Sanchez said he has entered his 1948 Chevrolet black pickup truck in the festival about four times. He has also showcased it in other car shows in Merced, Los Banos, Gustine, San Juan Bautista, and Gilroy.
Sanchez said he stays local because he doesn’t have time to go further and doesn't want to drive his old truck too far. His spare time, he said, goes into taking care of his truck and going to swap meets to gather up parts.
“Just takes a lot of time and money and dedication,” Sanchez said.
While Sanchez didn’t have to travel far to be in the car show, Brian Branco found it was the perfect excuse to take the 180-mile drive back home for the second year.
Branco said he grew up in Hollister, but moved to Sacramento for college in 1997. He now resides in Rocklin, California.
“It’s nice to run into old friends that I grew up with,” Branco said.
Branco’s 1928 Model A sedan is a tribute to his brother-in-law. He adorned the interior with license plates, including one his brother-in-law had at the time of his death.
“It’s gratifying creating something that people just awe about,” Branco said.
Branco relied on YouTube videos to guide him through most of the work he has done on Bouncy Betty, the car’s given name. He installed three seats in the car because he likes to ride with his two teenage sons.
Other than working on Bouncing Betty for the last six years, Branco said he loves the unknown history of his almost century-old car.
“It’s nice to have a little piece of American history,” Branco said. “You don’t know what it has seen, what its been through, but you know that it has probably gone through a lot.”
Branco, in his early 40s, said his interest in the old man’s sport, as he calls it, began when his dad was looking for an old car. Branco began going with him and slowly but surely his love for cars began to blossom.
“You meet a lot of great people and they are all willing to help,” Branco said.
Below is a list of other category winners:
Best Post War: 1957 Chevy Bel Air owned by Maurene Andrade of Morgan Hill.
Best Pick Up: 1955 Chevy Pick Up owned by Mike Burns of San Jose.
Best Custom-Modified: 1955 Chevy Bel Air owned by Tom D’Amico of Santa Clara.
Best Classic: 1966 Chevy Chevelle owned by Daniel Lemon of Hollister.
Best Modern: 2017 Chevy Camaro COPO owned by Hal Himenes of Hollister.
Best Corvette (Mike Cunningham Memorial): 1963 Corvette owned by Jerry Haugen of Gilroy.
Best Low Rider: 1963 Chevy Impala CO owned by Pete Cavesuela of Hollister.
Best Mustang (John Marfia, Jr. Memorial): 1966 Ford Mustang owned by Jesus Romero of Hollister.
Best Paint: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air owned Mike Pauline of Clayton.
Best PreWar: 1939 DeSoto SG Coupe owned by Juan Arreola of Prunedale
Best Preservation: 1965 Cadillac Coupe DeVille owned by Del Meyer of Pacific Grove.
Best Hometown: 1968 Chevy Camaro owned by Jim Gillio of Hollister.
Best Interior: 1969 Chevy Camaro owned by Angela Curro of Hollister.
Best Muscle: 1970 Dodge Road Runner owned by Brit Bigelow of Hollister
Longest Distance Traveled: 1931 Ford Slant Window owned by William Rice of Peyton, CO.
Car Club with the most participation: Central Coast Muscle Cars & Classics of Hollister.
People’s Choice: 1965 Ford AC Cobra owned by Jon Ribera of Hollister.