Well, they did it.
A group of dedicated, like minded car people set out to put on a great car show at the Rogue Valley Country Club in Southern Oregon, and in spite of Covid, wildfires (or possibly the risk of rickets, shingles, locust, the 40 year flood, and whatever else 2020 could throw at them) pulled it off in fine style.
This program has been in the ideation and planning stages for more a year, and reached and passed a couple of “Go / No Go” decision points along the way. Besides all of the Co-19 issues, neighboring Phoenix and Talent, Oregon were virtually destroyed by wildfires less than two weeks prior to the planned September, 20, 2020 car show (at the moment, it’s called a “Gathering” and not officially a concours). Luckily the fire danger had passed, the sky was blue, and the air was clear.
2020’s Gathering is also referred to as the Second annual iteration, although for all intent and purpose, it was the event’s first real planned happening. A smaller version of the same group put on a very casual, mostly last minute car show at the same wonderful property last year as more of a Cars N Coffee event held on grass instead of in a parking lot.
However the result and the idea caught the imagination of this hearty group of car peeps, plus several members of the country club’s board of directors, and together they (correctly) decided they had the kernel of something great, thus committing to a long term plan to make their car show into A Thing. They have no pie in the sky notions of attempting to knock Pebble Beach off the calendar, but felt the area and the community wanted and deserved a high quality automotive experience, committing to make it an annual event comprised of worthy entrants, solid planning, and a significant charity angle.
And they did.
Given that not only would 2020 be their essentially initial effort as an organized car show, and all of the learning and teething issues that go along with that notion, plus Covid concerns, the organizing team elected to forego most of the accoutrements common to most concours style events — there was no ticket price, gate or entry fee, no judging (and but one People’s Choice trophy) no program, no posters or t-shirts — and at the end of the day, I doubt people really missed these things (although expect several of these items to make the plan in the future) to the point of not attending or not wanting to come back next year.
Instead of a ticket charge, the show asked only optional donations to the Southern Oregon United Way. Lots of firefighter boots were on hand for coins, bills, and checks — all of which added up to nearly $60,000 for local charities. So good on them. Co-19 provisions were reasonable, for this entirely outdoors event. Clicker-wielding committee members kept tabs on the entrance and exit activity. Temperatures were taken up on entry. Mask wearing — not so much.
The Gathering was an invite-only deal (with the intent of taking it beyond the notion of a run what ya brung cars’n’coffee meet), with a carefully curated and laid out field that was planned with both physical distancing, and aesthetics in mind. Entrants were spaced out nicely and attractively to avoid too many contiguous colors and allow plenty room for walking and selfie-making without the field looking thin or whispy, avoiding the “airport parking lot rows-of-cars” look — there are larger events that could take lessons from these folks on how to do it.
Will they do it again? I say count on it, in fact those plans are already afoot. You can keep an eye on future happenings at: https://www.rvcc.com/SOGC/GatheringAtTheOaks
That first experimental event hosted something less than 30 vehicles on the grass; this one this time about double that, with plenty of fairway room for 100. Or 150. So expect this show (which is actually named the Gathering) to grow in number, quality, and stature. All said and done, it was a well done effort by a nice group of organizers and entrants with a common vision, populated by great cars on a perfect day, at a wonderful place. What’s not to like.
Careful curation of the entry list meant generally high quality cars, ranging from heavy classics and high buck stuff to muscle, rods, and some humble surprises — truly somethings for everyone. Keep an eye on this event, as it appears to have a certain future. I certainly plan to go back. Job well done, y’all.
Thanks to Gathering co-organizer Kirk Gerbracht for the great photos above and below, and you can doubleclick on any of them to see the shot full screen and in high res. So please don’t go, more photos below…