The Blethering Place may be gone, but it’s certainly not forgotten, and its former owner intends to keep it that way by carrying on with an Oak Bay summertime tradition.
The Blethering Place Collector Car Festival will take over a stretch Oak Bay Avenue between Mitchell Street and Monterey Avenue for its 11th year on Sunday. Close to 300 cars will be on display at what organizer Ken Agate calls “a wonderful five-block party for our local people.”
Though his tea room, for which the festival is named, closed earlier this year (it has since re-opened under new ownership as the Oak Bay Bistro), Agate plans to keep the car show going well into the future.
“Oak Bay Tourism is going to oversee it, which is good, because they will keep it going in perpetuity,” he said.
That’s music to the ears of car nuts like Lee Gould, who has been bringing his fully restored 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe to the show since 2003.
“It’s an entirely different show from most other car shows,” Gould said. “It’s a very eclectic show. All the stores (in Oak Bay Village) are open, there’s a great turnout of spectators, and we’ve been blessed every year with great weather.”
Gould acquired the Cadillac from his father in 1969 for just $1, only a few short days before his father died in an auto accident. He spent about four and a half years restoring it with the help of a friend.
He also owns a second, identical — albeit unrestored — car, but Cadillacs aren’t Gould’s only vehicular passion.
“I’ve worked with cars since I was a teenager working at Cadboro Bay Texaco,” he said. “I appreciate all types of cars that have been restored.”
In other words, Gould said, the Blethering Place classic car show is a perfect fit.
Unlike other car shows such as Windsor Park’s Jaguars on the Island, the event does not have a specific theme. All types of classic vehicles are welcome, a fact which Agate said gives the show a broad appeal, attracting hardcore collectors and “looky-loos” alike.
“A looky-loo is a wonderful person, because they are actually a person with memories,” he said. “It (the show) brings back memories of a trip across Canada, or their mom and their dad, or when they got married.
“A lot of cars are very interesting just because they’re a car where you can see their life of families, picnics, and whatever they did. Personally I like those cars because they tell a story just by looking at it.”
Gould’s 1949 Cadillac is just one of many stories waiting to be told at the Blethering Place show. In fact, those stories are a big reason Gould returns year after year.
“I usually end up parking my car and you don’t see me for the rest of the day,” he said. “I’m too busy meeting new people, seeing what they’re doing, and sometimes seeing folks I haven’t seen for 30 or 40 years.”
The Blethering Place Collector Car Festival runs Sunday, Aug. 14. In addition to the wide variety of cars on display, spectators can enjoy a prime rib barbecue and entertainment courtesy Johnny Vallis, Nathalie Karine and Virtual Elvis.
A new feature this year is the car corral, which will feature vehicles for sale by their owners.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. and costs $15 for car owners. General admission to the event is free. The festival winds up at 3:30 p.m.