The History of the Chico Concours d’Elegance
The Chico Concours d’Elegance had its beginning in 1979 as the brainchild of Mr. Todd Radke, a local automobile enthusiast and then Director of the Chico Visitor and Convention Bureau.
The Bureau was an adjunct of the Chico Chamber of Commerce and was charged with the responsibility of promoting events that would bring visitors to the city of Chico. The first Concours was held at the Silver Dollar Fairground and was an immediate success.
In 1982, the Chico Concours volunteers approached the Chico Active 20-30 Club to see if that group would be interested in taking over sponsorship of the event. The 20-30 Club had previously taken responsibility for concessions at the Concours and was interested in the event as a means of raising money for their community service work.
The 20-30 Club accepted the invitation and ran the show for the next three years, along with KHSL Radio/TV as a Co-sponsor. Art Gausemel and Glenn Geer of the 20-30 Club were chairmen for the 1982 and 1983 Concours.
All the funds raised by the events were donated to the Butte Special Olympics. The theme car for 1982 was Mercedes-Benz and for 1983 was Ford Thunderbird.
In 1984 the chairmanship passed to Glenn Geer and David Ricci. They chose Rolls-Royce as the theme car. In following years Packard motor cars, the cars of Britain, Italy, the 1930s and 1950s were all featured.
After the 1984 show the 20-30 Club realized that the Chico Concours d’ Elegance had grown to the point where it was simply too large and complex to be handled efficiently by a single organization, even though individuals outside the organization had volunteered many hours of free time. It was therefore decided to turn the Concours over to an independent Board of Directors for administration and organization.
In 1985 Chico Concours d’Elegance, Inc., was formed as a nonprofit charitable corporation with David Ricci, Glenn Geer, Gary Marquis, Mike Webster and Gary Estep as members of the new Board of Directors. Each Director was known for interest in automobiles and either business or community service experience.
In 1986 the Concours moved from the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds to its present location on the lawn area in front of Kendall Hall on the California State University, Chico Campus. The University provides a park-like setting and also serves to further connect the show to the downtown area of Chico and to the academic and artistic communities of Northern California.
Paul Tullius and Roy Carter, both of whom have been automotive enthusiasts for many years were invited to join the Board In 1989.
Dave Chamberlain brought his experience with vintage race cars to the Board in 1998.
In 1999 Dino Corbin, who was the first Chief Judge and was instrumental in setting up the first Chico Concours d’Elegance in 1978 returned to the Board of Directors. Also in 1999, Pat Kopp who had been on the staff at California State University, Chico (CSUC) and has been active in community entertainment and educational programs for many years joined as a member.
Joining us in 2000 was Phil Papeman of Butte Community Bank who brings a wealth of business, retail and marketing expertise. He is in charge of all marketing materials, website development and computer support services.
Joining the Board in 2002 was Stephanie Yule, who is Director of Risk Management at California State University, Chico and the proud owner of a lovely 1959 Jaguar Mark I 2.4 Litre Saloon. Ms. Yule is our Director of Judging and also handles all show registrations.
Dean Fregoso joined us in April 2004 as our chief design guy. When not working behind his computer as a graphic designer, Dean can be found wrenching on his 1964 Ranchero or in pursuit of a 1976 Porsche 912E. The board extends our sincerest gratitude to Dean for his continuing excellent, reliable and affordable assistance.
Gregg Mowers, a well-known real estate businessman from Paradise who has been an automotive enthusiast for a number of years, joined the Board of Directors in 2005.
Our newest member of the Board is Mr. Glen Estrada. Glen is a Corvette enthusiast and his car was used on the commemorative poster for 2003 when Corvette was our featured marque. Glen started out volunteering his time to assist with our sales area at the Concours and did such an enthusiastic and energetic job he was unanimously drafted into full Board membership in 2006.
Phil Papeman retired as marketing materials guru, and was replaced by Anne Marie Larsen who is a recent transplant from Michigan, where she was a Professor of Business at Finlandia University and is now working at both Butte Community College and California State University, Chico as a professor of mathematics.
The delightful and hard working Ms. Stephanie Yule retired from CSU, Chico and moved to the hinterlands of Washington State. Her most able assistant, Lino Ricci, has now joined the Chico Concours Board of Directors and will also assume the responsibilities of Chief Judge of Concours.
2009, the 31st year for the Chico Concours d’Elegance featured the cars of General Motors on its 100th anniversary. We had a very nice turnout of well over a hundred fine examples of automotive art and engineering, not only from General Motors, but all the other American manufacturers as well as many foreign marques.
It also marked both an end and a beginning for the Concours, since it was the last year the event would be held at California State University, Chico, and ushers in new opportunities, and challenges, as the Concours moves to its new location in 2010 at Butte Creek Country Club, just south of Chico. It will be an exciting time for Concours since it will provide much more space for exhibits, vendors and family oriented activities in a lovely country setting.
We are sad to lose the talents of Paul Tullius for 2010, who after many years of hard work on the Concours Board of Directors decided to hang up his Director’s Hat and take a well deserved break from all that work, concentrating instead on showing his fine cars at Concours all over California and traveling to automotive events abroad. Well done, Paul. We will miss you on the Board, but will look forward to your presence at our show as an exhibitor, and as an ambassador for us at other Concours.
2010, the 32nd year for the Chico Concours d’Elegance, the chosen marque was “A Field of Dreams.” The directors chose a wide open marque as we wanted to see what we might come up with in the way of new and unique entries. We were not disappointed!
Exhibitors brought out their own personal “dream” vehicles that ranged from classic American and foreign examples to motorcycles, hot rods, customs and even a Tahoe mahogany boat and several very old bicycles. That was the whole idea, put as many personal dreams on the field as possible, and it worked well. We had more exhibits than we have had in a very long time.
It was also our first year at Butte Creek Country Club and the expanded field space was very well used. Local car dealers brought out their finest examples for our Commercial Area and a wide variety of local merchants and service providers filled one side of the field area with vendor tents. We are indebted to the fine staff and management of Butte Creek Country Club for their all-out support as we planned and implemented the show at its new venue.
A VIP area for exhibitors was added, much to the delight of those exhibitors wanting a nice indoor place to cool off and enjoy a little food and bar service. We had our first ever Concours Fashion Show thanks to Jadee Carter and her friends. The Concours Gala held the night before the Concours was sponsored by the Country Club and excellent food and great music for dancing was enjoyed by all.
We are set for 2011! Because of the date, September 11, 2011, we hope to have a patriotic observance as a part of the Concours. Come join us!
2011 – American Graffitti
What a lot of fun we had with this theme! The Country Club did burgers, hot dogs and root beer floats for the Gala and many participants came in their finest 50′s jeans and T-shirts. We had an excellent field of cars, many with very high scores.
2012 – American Rivalry of the Century: Chevrolet vs Ford
This had to be the biggest display of Model A Fords in our area since 1931! The local Model A Club, Chico A’s did a full court press and really brought out the numbers. The local chapter of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America did their part and brought in a significant number of lovely Chevrolets to join in the fun.
We had some changes in the Chico Concours d’Elegance Board of Directors this year. Veteran member Gregg Mowers retired from the Board to pursue new professional opportunities and was replaced by Chicoan Gary Younie, Jr., President of the Chico Strollers Car Club, which was started by his dad in 1953.
With great sadness we unfortunately lost our veteran Board Member and Chief Judge Lino Ricci to cancer a few weeks before the show. It was a huge loss, but Gary Younie Jr. had agreed earlier to be chief judge in training and with the help of other members of the Board we were able to fill Lino’s very large shoes and do a good job of judging what turned out to be the largest field of entries we have ever had, around 180 cars.
2013 – Our 35th Anniversary
What a turnout we had for our 35th Chico Concours d’Elegance! Our 2013 poster was a montage of every poster we have had since the beginning. It was quite the task to photograph them and get them into digital format, but our graphic artist Dean Fregoso did the job along with Director Dino Corbin who had every one of the posters in his collection.
Gary Younie, Jr. stepped up and is now fully installed as our Chief Judge. Gary had been a Chico Concours d’Elegance Judge for quite some time prior to 2012.
In 2013 we welcomed a new member to our Board of Directors. Several of us simultaneously came up with the name of Thomas Nolan-Gosling as we pondered adding to our Board. Thomas drives an Iconic Citroen 2CV and has been a car guy for a long time. He brings a welcome freshness and high level of enthusiasm to the Chico Concours d’Elegance.
We held an SCCA judges training seminar this past Spring giving all our judges a refresher course on SCCA rules, regulations, and procedures.
New for 2013 was our being an officially sanctioned Sports Car Club of America Concours d’Elegance. This brought out a very nice selection of cars that we had never seen before and also widened the geographical draw for the show. SCCA exhibitors vie for special SCCA recognition at the end of the season, so there were a number of very high quality presentations.
After the show we received numerous comments from exhibitors that they loved the ambience and friendly reception they received during their visit to Chico. That is pretty much what we have wanted to spotlight from the very beginning.
2014 – Show Cars of Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
As the board of directors reminisce over 35 years of successful events they looked to what the future might hold. It was fitting that this year’s marque would be “Show Cars of Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.”
We are proud to welcome Gino Manfredi as a newest member to our Board of Directors and his assistance is invaluable.
Over the years the Chico Concours d’Elegance has been at the Silver Dollar Fair Grounds, the front lawn of California State University, Chico and now at Butte Creek Country Club. One constant theme throughout the Chico Concours d’Elegance is that this is Chico, and we do things just a little bit differently.
Typically, Chico means you can see a car that is just plain funky and different to the elegant marques of the world’s great auto manufacturers, and everything in between. Some on our board have served since the very first Concours d’Elegance, and do so for the love of the automobile, to share that experience with the public, and raise funds for local charities.
All these members of the Board of Directors contribute freely of their time, energy and knowledge with no compensation other than the satisfaction of bringing this fine event to the community of Chico.
2015 – Simply Fintastic! Cars With Fins
Ah, those glorious behemoth expressions of American Design Excess that defined cars of the 1950s. Starting with the really modest P-38 inspired tail treatment of the 1948 Cadillac by Harley Earl and winding through the amazing creations of Virgil Exner of Chrysler and various designers from Ford and GM; then continuing on into the early 1960’s.
Who could have guessed that such designs would have captured the hearts of so many of us back then, and even now as we take a nostalgic look backward. With that in mind, we chose our 2015 Marque, and how lovely it was. We had a really nice collection of those wonderful “Fintastic” creations along with our usual gaggle of domestic and foreign sports cars, hot rods, customs, period and classic sedans.
You see, we are a “We love ’em all” type of car show and thoroughly celebrate the variety and excellence of our exhibited vehicles. Once again we had the enormously popular exhibit of motorcycles, both historic and more modern. And where else would you see such an exhibit of 1930s Chrysler Airflows? A delight to the eyes for certain and a first for a local small town concours like ours. Nope, we are no Pebble Beach, but we sure have a lot of fun with what we do.
A popular expression around here is “But this is Chico!”, and we are proud to honor that old saw. With the wonderful support of all our enthusiastic advertisers, volunteers, exhibitors and attendees, we plan on continuing the tradition in 2016. Stay tuned …
We are proud to again provide some financial support through our charitable contributions to the California State University Chico Rugby Team, the Automotive Technology Program at Butte Community College and Rotary International, all of whom jumped in to work with us and make the event such a smooth running and fun event.
2016 – Our 38th Year!
We are proud to announce the addition of two new members of our Board of Directors. David Mortensen, a graduate of California State University, Chico is a long-time auto enthusiast. David has a nice collection of Chevys from the 50’s and 60’s and owns a business that sells used 55/56/57 Chevy (of course) parts nation wide. He has had extensive experience in community service with local schools and is a member of the Sierra View Region of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America.
Our second new director is Zachary Mustaine who is the Business Development Officer at our local Golden Valley Bank. Zach will be the youngest member of our B of D and we welcome his fresh enthusiasm, business sense and love of automobiles and driving. He is a BMW guy who is familiar with a number of automotive events in the Bay Area and is excited about contributing to the quality of our show.
Our long time Graphic Artist Dean Fregoso has finally reached the point where his regular job became so time-consuming that he has had to cut back on some of the concours projects (but he still keeps his hand in). We have asked the very capable Janet Moon, who created our souvenir program for our 30th Anniversary 2008 show to step up with her talents. Janet has done a terrific job with our program for 2016.
We are particularly proud and excited to have been able to obtain artwork for our posters, program cover and T-shirts from the very talented and renowned automotive artist, Robert Carter. Robert has agreed to produce a series of art for the next three years of our show ending with our 40th anniversary poster. Robert is native to the U.K. and has his work displayed in many of the finest automotive art galleries and museums in the world. Take a look at his bio elsewhere in this year’s program. We hope that you enjoy Robert Carter’s art work as much as we enjoy having him a part of the Chico Concours d’Elegance.
2017 – Our 39th Year
A motorcycle for our souvenir poster?? Yes indeed! Our poster artist Robert Carter came up with a lovely followup to his 2016 poster featuring a vintage racing car. You see, we love all things vintage and have had a wonderful showing of vintage motorcycles for several years now. If it has wheels and is classy, we like it a lot.
If we could get lucky and find some vintage classic Tahoe-type wood boats we would happily put them on the field too, but they have to be on a trailer … wheels, you know. Heck, a nicely restored fiberglass boat from the ’50s would be neat.
It has been a lot of fun watching our show grow over the last 39 years. Starting at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds; moving to the campus of California State University, Chico and eventually to the present location at Butte Creek Country Club.
Would you believe that some of the original crew at the inaugural concours are still with us. President Dino Corbin was there, and so was David Ricci who heads up our field design and placement. Chief of concours Gary Estep showed a car that year and then joined the board of directors a few years later. You know what that means? Either they started as teenagers or are older than dirt by now. What counts is the dedication we have seen from all those who have put this show on for so many years.
Next year will be our 40th anniversary. Hold on to your hats! No telling what shenanigans we might come up with.