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Autoshow part of Jan. 25 Community House Fun Fest

By Staff | Dec 24, 2014

Event sponsors for the Fun Fest 2015 “Cars of the Island Stars” include San-Cap Motor Club co-founders Scot Congress (left) and Mike Stone, event co-sponsor Marvin “Rookie” Bradley, and event coordinator James McHale. CRAIG GARRETT

Organizers of a Jan. 25 event in Sanibel are putting out the call to island owners of exotic, fun and collectable vehicles. The Sanibel Community House’s “Cars of the Island Stars” beauty contest should attract more than 50 car, truck and motorcycle owners to the Community House grounds off Periwinkle Way. Organizers said the numbers could swell as word spreads.

Sanibel this year will provide a grass area next to the Community House for vehicle displays. Exotic owners are fussy about parking on shell or gravel lots, which happened last year. The recently formed San-Cap Motor Club will co-host the vehicle show. The group has held a couple of successful car rallies at Periwinkle Place in the last months.

Expect surprises, sponsors said, as southwest Floridians own vehicles of extreme value. One Sanibel collector, for instance, keeps a priceless 1960s Ferrari. Others quietly stuff island garages with vintage and production vehicles of outrageous elegance and value. Islanders and off-island car buffs will join in the Jan. 25 show, said organizers hoping in the coming years to create a show like the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, which features exotic vehicles, test drives and auctions.

The Sanibel autoshow is part of Fun Fest 2015, a family day and benefit for the Sanibel Community House. Fun Fest this year features a kids carnival, a sandsculpting contest, bluegrass entertainment, food, other good things celebrating a community center dating to the 1920s. Cars will start rolling in at 8 a.m. The event begins at 10 a.m.

Fees, sponsorships and other proceeds benefit the Sanibel Community House, the island’s oldest social gathering facility.

Organizers at the Jan. 25 event expect a variety of performance, luxury, classic and show vehicles from America, Europe and Asia, including Ferraris, hotrods (custom/factory), Bentley/Rolls, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi R8/sedans, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz sedans, Chevy Corvettes and Cameros, Ford Mustangs and classic 1950s/1960s production and muscle cars, beach vehicles, trucks and more, organizers said.

A new Dodge Hellcat and other supercharged sports cars are also expected to join the show, said Jim McHale, the event coordinator and a car collector. The Hellcat is rated at some 700 horsepower and prices out at more than $70,000. The owner, Marvin “Rookie” Bradley, is a co-sponsor of the event.

“We expect a fair cross-section of classic vehicles,” said McHale, who has owned Rolls, Porsche and Corvette vehicles, among other collectables.

Ultimately the car show benefits the Sanibel Community House, an island gathering place built in the 1920s. The story is that islander Curtis Perry walked Sanibel and Captiva, collecting donations for building a community house. Perry was a bachelor and artist wintering in Sanibel and painting sunrises and sunsets. He would become president of the Sanibel Community Association. Miss Cordie Nutt donated the land on Periwinkle where the building today remains. Additions over the decades have created a large gathering hall. The original donors also gave materials and labor. Saturday night socials with a 10 cent admission and radio music provided early entertainment. Spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts at the Community House are a rite of passage for many.

The Community House has been used by social clubs, families, events, lecture forums and parties. The Sanibel Shell Festival in March 2015 will celebrate its 78th year at the Community House. BIG ARTS and other island fixtures were started at the Community House.

But it costs more than a quarter million dollars to maintain and staff the Community House. Sponsors, individual donors and events like the Shell Festival and Fun Fest help in funding the historic facility, said Teresa Riska-Hall, executive director.

“And when (you) think about who’s using it,” she said, “it’s the community. The list of groups goes on and on.”