WASILLA — John Holcomb recently took the reins for the 49th State Street Rodders. He’s revved up to keep the nonprofit car club going in the Valley for years to come.

“Most of the people here are like me, they love their cars and they love showing them,” Holcomb said.

The Rodders hosted their annual three-day car show at the Menard Sports Center as a part of the city of Wasilla’s Summerfest activities. Alaska Rodeo is also running three days of events outside the sports center.

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Holcomb said there were 31 vehicles entered in this year’s show. He said this is one of two three-day festivals they hold each year, the other one takes place at the MTA Sports Center during the first weekend of May.

Attendance was fairly slow on Friday, according to Holcomb. He said he wished more spectators showed up and really wanted more people to enter their vehicles. The club has undergone major changes in recent years and he said they’re going to need more people to rally behind them moving forward.

“If people want this thing to survive, they’re going to have to participate more,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb has lived in the Valley for many years and this club has been around a long time. They annually host their own events and partake in community events like the Colony Days Parade. They will be at the Alaska State Fair parade in August.

“It’s just fun. We have a lot of people who respect it,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb is nearing his 80th birthday. He said that this club and lifestyle is very important to him.

“People my age usually want to sit down… I’m not going to do that,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said that he has six cars and it’s common for car show regulars to have multiple prides and joys. He said there’s several “die-hards” who come to every event. At this show, his black cherry ‘57 Chevrolet Bel-Air hard top gleamed under the dome lights. He said that he spent over 2.5 years working on it.

“I think it’s beautiful even though it’s mine,” Holcomb said with a laugh.

Wayne Curtis and his wife entered two cars for this year’s show, a 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 and a very rare 1985 ASC/McLaren. He said that he really appreciates the Rodders and how open they are to entries, allowing anyone bring their vehicles not matter the year, type or condition.

“It’s a great group of people… It doesn’t matter what kind of car you have. If you can drive it or push it, bring it,” Curtis said.

Circling around the spectrum of classic cars easily evokes nostalgia, according to Curtis. He said that the history behind each car says a lot about the era it was made in, relevant to historic events and circumstances.

“They all have stories. Cars all have stories,” Curtis said.

Curtis said that cars have a special power to transport people through time, with fond recollections of a first car, the family vehicle or the undying love over a favorite car since childhood.

“It brings back a lot of memories for people. Everyone finds some car they connect with,” Curtis said.

Curtis noted how much entrants enjoy talking about their favorite cars and sharing their experience with others. He gave credence to the devote engine junkies who build their beauties from scratch.

“Now that’s impressive,” Curtis said.

Amongst the various classic cars was a new, 2018 Buick Encore. Sitting in front of the SUV were U.S. Army Veteran Erik J Bohlen and John Siller Vietnam Veterans of America Alaska State Council secretary/director of Veteran Service Officer Program. They were selling raffle tickets, collecting funds for the Mat Su Veterans Foundation who continues to support local veterans in a variety of ways.

“They help vets in tough spots with everything from living situations to helping them keep their lights and heat running,” Bohlen said.

Those in the raffle are entered for the chance to win the $27,000 Buick. They will announce the raffle winner on Sunday during the last day of the car show.

The car show is free to attend and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call: 907-232-1678 or visit: statestreetrodders.com

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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