Best of Show at the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival Show & Glow Car Show was a classic VW Bug entered into the competition on a whim.

Serendipitous only way to describe Best of Show Glow & Show winner

August 01, 2014
Santa Paula News

Serendipitous is probably the only way to describe your first visit to a balloon festival that you only found out about online, showing a car show official an iPhone photo of your own vehicle parked outside, being invited to bring the VW in as an entry, something you’ve never done before... and then winning Best of Show.

That’s exactly what happened to John Contreras and Cathy Rosemary Saturday at the 7th Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival where they won the Best of Show in the Show & Glow Car Show held as part of the festivities.

Contreras said, “A couple of months ago Cathy said she would love to go to a balloon festival,” and he found that although the Temecula event had just ended he could buy tickets for the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival.

“I surprised her with the tickets,” and Contreras said an added bonus was the Citrus Classic was close the couple’s Castaic home.

On Saturday they hopped in Rosemary’s 1970 VW Bug and hit the road, found parking at the event and walked right into the Show & Glow Car Show.

“We got talking to people,” and Contreras said he wound up bragging on the baby blue and off white Bug, showing off the car in an iPhone photo that generated immediate excitement.

“They said to bring it in and enter it in the show... when we asked what we had to do they said just fill out the form,” and pay the entry fee.

“We thought,” said Contreras, “it would be a hoot and a half!”

But not a winner: “There was a Jaguar there worth more than $100,000, some really fabulous cars but everybody seemed to love the VW. They came up and talked to us, told us all their stories,” about personal experiences with the famed VW Bug, “how it had been there first car... all these teenage girls dragged their dads over and said they wanted it!”

Others with cars entered in the show shared the enthusiasm of the crowd - “They were all over it!” - and also shared their shade canopies and company with the couple.

“We just had a great time all day with everybody,” including telling them the history of the 44-year-old VW, given by Contreras to Rosemary - a middle school teacher - about seven years ago.

She in turn gave it to her son, but when Contreras bought a VW Bus, “Her son fell in love with it... I told him he could have it when he graduated from college,” and the exchange later took place.  

“I stripped it down to nothing, rebuilt it and made it what it is today... “

But that was before he returned the car to Rosemary: “We bought the house next door as an investment property and I parked the VW in the garage there. On Mother’s Day I took Cathy out to breakfast,” and when the couple returned home Contreras used the remote to open the neighboring garage door.

“There was the Bug, with a great big card on it that said Happy Mother’s Day!”

The moment the Bug took Best of Show was a joyous one: “There were 14 awards given out at the Show & Glow and by the time they got to the last one, the Best of Show, and announced number 30, we just looked at each other and started screaming!”

Said Rosemary, “There were a lot of very beautiful and expensive classic cars and I didn’t think I even had a chance to win. I’m still in awe of the whole event!”

Contreras, the owner of a medical transport company, noted that he has been teased, “That I gave her the car instead of the engagement ring,” but there’s more than one winning moment in the couple’s future.

But he’s not sure if it will be in the car show arena: “Cathy said maybe the VW Bug should just retire at the top!”

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