SNELLING -- Several hundred vintage vehicles from throughout California are expected Sunday at one of this area's major car shows of the year.
"Super Sunday at the River" will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Henderson Park on Highway 59. It's the 21st annual charitable show put on by the Merced-based Valve Burners car club and between 1,500 and 2,000 spectators are likely to show up for the day-long event.
"It's a lot of work to get there but fun once it starts," past president Joe Santo of Atwater said. It's even more rewarding when Super Sunday proceeds are donated to the club's main beneficiary, Hinds Hospice of Merced, and other charities, he added.
Vehicles manufactured up to 1972 are welcome. Former president Tracy Ledford of Winton said street rods, custom cars, hot rods, showroom stock vehicles, muscle cars and trucks will be on display at the Snelling park near the Merced River.
Ledford said the event is a fun, rewarding time. Thirty-two awards representing personal picks will be given out but the event is not a judged competition. A new award this year will feature 1955-57 Chevrolets and is in memory of the late Jim Scott of Merced who died last spring.
Super Sunday is the brainchild of the late Johnny Wood who died in 2006 and was instrumental in the revival of the 1950s-vintage club. One of the awards also is given out in Wood's memory.
"Every year you meet new people and form lasting friendships," Santo said. He said over 100 vehicles are pre-registered and traditionally actual attendance is more than double early estimates.
Car owners from Clovis, Watsonville, Redding, Hollister, Fresno, Modesto, Gustine, Newman and all parts of Merced County are expected to attend. The show was held for 18 years at Lake Yosemite and two years at the Merced County Fairgrounds before moving to Snelling.
Since the event began, more than $100,000 has been raised for Hinds Hospice, Ledford said. An average of 250 cars are expected each year and one year about 500 vehicles showed up, Santo said.
The Valve Burners has 22 member families and all pitch in to help on Sunday. The Golden Valley High School FFA prepares tri-tip and linguica sandwiches. There will be live music and a radio disc jockey on hand.
Balmier weather is expected Sunday, Ledford said, compared to last year when 100-degree temperatures were the rule at the fairgrounds.
A Saturday Night Rendezvous featuring some of the vehicles expected Sunday will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday in the Lowe's parking lot on West Olive Avenue.
The entry fee for vehicles Sunday is $25 and spectator admission is $4, with children under age 12 admitted free.
The awards ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m. with hundreds of raffle prizes donated by local merchants given away following the awards. No pets, alcohol or portable barbecues are allowed at Henderson Park, a county-owned park.
Ledford, a club member for 10 years, owns a 1958 Edsel custom car, a 1931 Ford Model A five-window coupe and the 1950s-vintage "Cotton Chopper" dragster once campaigned by early club members. He also has a customized 1953 Ford pickup truck that's being rebuilt now, along with a 1957 Dodge truck and a 1952 Plymouth.
Santo, a club member for nine years, has owned a 1941 Chevrolet two-door sedan for 13 years. It's in gray primer now but Santo vows the car will be repainted this year. In the past he has owned a 1939 Chevrolet pickup, a 1972 Chevrolet Blazer and a 1971 Chevy truck.
For information on joining the Valve Burners, those interested may contact show chairman John Machado at 756-9522.
Doane Yawger is a retired Merced Sun-Star reporter and editor who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.