Creig P. Sherburne/Atascadero News • Bethany and Mark Frayer of Atascadero pose with Bethany’s freshly restored 1963 Volkswagen Beetle. A project Bethany’s worked on for the previous year, it was finally drivable about an hour before Hot El Camino Cruise Nite began Friday evening.
ATASCADERO — To call the 23rd annual Mid-State Cruisers car show or the 20th annual Hot El Camino Cruise Nite anything other than unmitigated successes would be an exercise in the crassest of cynicism.
The show was a lesson in art, history, community, elbow grease and plain old fashioned high-quality craftsmanship.
Those lessons are, perhaps, best exemplified by Bethany Frayer, 16, of Atascadero. She and her father were at the show showing Bethany’s 1963 Volkswagen ragtop Beetle.
Bethany’s dad, Mark, owned a body shop during Bethany’s early years. He said that even as a kindergartener, Bethany always said she wanted a nice car when she was old enough. So last year, at the age of 15, when she was approaching old enough, she and Mark bought the Beetle from a fellow in Fresno. Mark said that Bethany spent the following year fixing it up with a little help from her father.
“She always wanted it to be purple,” he said with a laugh. “And it was always her project. Her next project is learning to drive a stick-shift.”
Duane Powell, president of the Mid-State Cruizers, said that 176 cars were on display at Atascadero Lake Park that day, each with its own unique story and journey.
One such journey was taken by Dave and Nancy Gilmore of Salinas. They bought their 1968 Chevrolet Camaro from a California Highway Patrolman who bought it from a California Highway Patrolman. Now the car’s fifth owner, Gilmore said he was able to track down the car’s original owner a while ago and that he was thrilled to know the car was still on the road.
Gilmore said he loves the Mid-State Cruizers car show and has participated in it for the previous three years. But, he added, he only learned about Hot El Camino Cruise Nite Saturday morning.
“So we’ll do that next year,” he said with a smile.
Powell said that the Mid-State Cruizers took in $1,500 in raffle tickets and gave away $1,000 worth of raffle items. There were also many awards given in many different categories, but one of Powell’s favorite was simply the best car as voted on by youngsters.
The winner of the children’s choice award was a pink 1964 Cadillac owned by Don and Burt Nicholson of Atascadero.
One thing that was a little different this year, Powell said, was there were far more vendors than usual.
“All the vendors were happy and did well,” Powell said.
But one thing that was totally normal this year was the number and quality of the volunteers. He said there were about 30 volunteers, all Mid-State Cruisers members.
“The volunteers made the show the great show it was,” Powell said. “The show just can’t go on as well as it does without the members and volunteers.”
All money earned from the car show goes to local nonprofit organizations, Powell said. He added that the car club does not yet know exactly how much was raised, nor has the club voted on which organizations will benefit from the donations. Those details will be sorted out at the club’s next meeting.
“The whole purpose is showing cars of any stage of repair to donate money to local nonprofits,” Powell said. “Everyone I greeted as they left the show said they’d be back again next year.”