More than 400 cars ranging from muscle cars to customs from all years were registered for the Friends of Coal Auto Fair’s 13th annual event.
The event took place at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley — the second year the event has been at this location.
The goal is to raise funds for local charitable organizations with all proceeds including car registration fees, concert ticket prices and gate admissions going to Hospice of Southern West Virginia, the Humane Society of Raleigh County and the Women’s Resource Center.
Janett Green, CEO of Hospice of Southern West Virginia, said this is the second year these three organizations have been involved with the auto fair. She said the event is a boost for these organizations.
“Any donations we receive, whether it’s $5 or $5,000, all goes to benefit our organization,” she said. “The auto fair last year was the first year being one of the beneficiaries. It was a great shot in the arm to support the organization.”
She said the event isn’t just about cars, mentioning other activities such as concerts, church services, kids’ activities, vendors, and free airplane rides for kids who sit through a say no to drugs presentation.
“I think that says a lot about what it takes to run this auto fair,” Green said. “Those pilots are willing to donate their time to take kids up on a free airplane ride.”
Skeets Loving, a board member with the Humane Society of Raleigh County, said he’s been on the auto fair steering committee for many years. He said the goal of the committee was to pick charities that benefit the community.
“These are charities that touch everyone’s lives in Raleigh County and provide great services to Raleigh County,” Loving said. “I’m blessed to be involved.”
He said the event helps provided needed funds for the Humane Society.
“The goal is to provide homes for these animals,” he said. “The money we get from events like these is beneficial. And more than that, it’s good to be part of community outreach that touches so many members.”
Dee Sizemore, public relations fundraising coordinator with the Women’s Resource Center, said events like these help fill the gaps that grants don’t pay.
“We are always losing grant money so that’s why increased funding and being part of wonderful events like this is why it’s so important to the Women’s Resource Center,” Sizemore said. “It just helps us keep the doors open and provide free, confidential services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
She described involvement with the event as a “dream come true.”
“When I think back about the Friends of Coal Auto Fair, it’s what everyone did in the summertime,” Sizemore said. “Last year, when we were asked to be part of it with Hospice and the Humane Society, it was like a dream come true because here is an event with a history and long standing in the community. To be part of that, there are no words to describe how excited we were to be part of it.”
Colby Gray, who is with Glen’s Towing, brought more than 26 cars to the Auto Fair Saturday. The majority of the cars, he said, belonged to him or his family.
“We have about 10 Corvettes. We have one Pontiac Firebird 1967, a ’69 Camaro and a ’70 Camaro. We also have an old military Humvee and a couple of Slingshots entered in,” he said.
It all started with his grandfather, who bought a 1963 Corvette. This sparked his father’s interest in cars, particularly Corvettes.
“From then, he kind of went crazy on Corvettes and it kind of took off from there,” Gray said. “I’m more into Camaros and other cars.
“They liked to buy them and drive them,” he said. “They didn’t care to clean them or show them. They just wanted to drive them.”
Although this was the first year Gray and his family has shown cars, he said he hopes to make it a yearly event.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done a car show. It’s been amazing so far. I love it. I love to interact with people and show off the cars.”
Gray said his favorite part of the event is interacting with the crowd and getting out in the community.
He said he loved answering questions about cars and talking to other “gear heads” who have similar interests.
“I love it. I love talking about cars. I love seeing people’s expressions, especially the little kids,” Colby said. “It’s good to get out and let people see what we get to see every day because we keep our collections to ourselves.”
— Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @AndreaLannom
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