To some people of a certain age who go to car shows featuring early 20th Century Detroit muscle cars, rust-covered (now called it patina) trucks, or even an International Harvester tractor, the journey is akin to a religious experience.
They—and I’m talking about the guys, in particular—remember that midnight blue Pontiac GTO with white leather interior that their new girlfriend wanted to drive, or the insanely fast black Dodge Charger R/T that they cruised in down San Felipe Road. They mystify those standing around them as they go silent in awe of how fast those cars really were—and how fast those years had slipped away forever.
No one could be blame them for feeling, well spiritual, at the sight of all those gleaming, pampered idols from Motor City during the 11th Annual Father’s Day Car Show on June 21. This may be because it was sponsored by and took place right outside the Hollister campus of South Valley Community Church (SVCC) on Technology Drive.
The event was inspired by the love of church and all things about cars and dads. The day began inside with the SVCC worship team celebrating through music, Pastor Mike Paddy’s sermon on Galatians and the roar outside of growling Hemi engines.
“Don Skow had a vision to have a car show, kind of a community event to let people know we’re a church of the community, and what better way to do that than by having a car show on Father’s Day and having a good time hanging out,” said Isaac Serrano, lead teaching pastor of SVCC. “We’ve continued that tradition after his passing and hope to continue doing so in the future.”
Skow pastored in Hollister for more than 20 years. He started Hollister Christian Fellowship in 2001. He was committed to serving as a pastor, a missionary who founded an orphanage in Haiti, a farmer and a father. He was also an avid car collector.
“Don and Rich Hershey, and some other guys from the church, would meet for Wednesday lunches at Corbin's Wizards Café and Father’s Day was coming up,” said Pat Skow, Don’s wife, “and they wanted to do something different. They were all collectors, so they thought about having a car show. We just put out a few flyers and it turned out to be a nice little car show.”
She said the idea was to have a “hassle-free” car show. “They just wanted to bring car people together, show their cars and have fun. There were no awards, no judging, and no admission. Just come and bring your car, motorcycle or even a work in progress. They didn’t care.”
Skow said the show quickly evolved into serving the community. “We wanted to show the community that churches can have fun. We live here. We love and serve our community. That has always been the underlying reason for the car show.
“It has now taken on a life of its own. I talk to people around town and I always carry flyers and people already know about it. Today, I met a few people who are here for the first time and they are loving it. Many have been coming for years and it’s just what they do on Father’s Day.”
Pastor Paddy said the original intent of the show was to be a gift to the community. “It began with only 12 cars,” he said. “Over the past few years we’ve averaged over 100 cars. We’ve continued doing the shows because they’re what we call a ‘side-door ministry.’ We want to bring people into a church environment of believers to honor fathers. It’s an opportunity for dads to come with their families.
“Many fathers and grandfathers will come and they’ll see a car they owned years ago. It’s a day that resonates with them. We’ve had people come from as far as Sacramento who heard about it and came here because it was Father’s Day and they wanted to be a part of the show.”
Historically, on Father’s Day church attendance is normally down as families opt instead to go out to lunch. But that wasn’t the case last Sunday.
“We had 188 people in the sanctuary,” Paddy said. “But outside, with our volunteers, we had 20 to 30 people. This would have been our biggest Sunday if everyone had been in here. I think as a church, people are understanding we’re gospel-centered-mission focused, and we’re not bible thumpers or fundamentalists. We’re not about rules and regulations. It’s about the grace of God who loves us and he wants us to understand His will for our lives.”
Of course, even with the purest intentions, pulling off a successful car show comes down to someone doing the hard work. Amelia Dixon has served as event coordinator of the show for the last three years.
“Mike Paddy asked me to help the Skow family because there was a transition going on due to Don’s health,” she said. “Pat already had the setup and foundation, and I followed her example. We just developed it from there. Don used to walk around to the businesses in town and personally talk to them and soon everyone in the community would just watch for the flyers. A lot of the car show guys who come are here because of the history that the Skows created.”
Those who came to the car show actually experienced two free shows. As they ambled down the lane between gleaming Chevys, Dodges and Plymouths, or peered under the hoods of the futuristic three-wheeled Polaris Slingshot, or the elegant Lamborghini, or wondered how the 1922 Ford Truck drove under its own power to the event, the piercing blue sky was streaked with white smoke trailing behind diving, twisting aerobatic planes flown by veteran stunt pilots Vicky Benzing and Spencer Suderman in the Hollister Father’s Day Airshow.
It was a very spiritual Father’s Day in Hollister.