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24th annual Oak Bay car show dedicated to late founder

The festival happens on Oak Bay Avenue on July 21

When the founder of the Oak Bay Collector Car Festival, Ken Agate, moved to Oak Bay in 1979 from his home in New Zealand, he doubtlessly left behind cherished friends to make a new life in a new land.

What he wouldn’t leave behind, however, was his cherished 1938 Dodge Deluxe Touring Sedan. That, he had shipped over to Oak Bay and, when he started the festival 20 years later, that car was used as the logo for the event.

“The event this year is dedicated to Ken,” said Ron Dempsey, the current organizer of the Oak Bay car show. “Ken ran it for about 20 years but, sadly, he passed away in the winter of last year. We visited him in the hospital after last year’s show and showed him photos of the cars. He couldn’t speak, but his eyes were full of love for cars and his pride at the event. He was thrilled.”

Determined to carry on that long legacy, Dempsey says that the show will continue to cater to anyone who has a car and feels passionate about their vehicle.

“We’re a non-denominational car show,” Dempsey said with a chuckle. “We aren’t going to discriminate, and we’ll cater to everyone from the 17-year-old with his first classic Volkswagen to the older generations who have classic vehicles from when they were young.”

Dempsey recognizes that the echo of bygone eras hums in the engine of every classic car and that every car has a tale etched in its steel body.

“It’s what I love about the show. Cars are often stories, and those stories make connections between generations,” Dempsey said. “This year we’ll have some folks on hand to broadcast and share some of those stories.”

As an example of the time capsule nature of automobiles, Dempsey pointed out a 1975 Ford Pinto Sport Wagon that will be at this year’s show.

“It’s a reflection of the time when graphic designs on vans were all the rage and it was Ford’s attempt at making the pinto into a van,” he said.

With Ken Agate’s passing, this will be the first year for a new team of volunteers to take the wheel of the show, now in its 24th year.

“We’ll have about 300 cars on display, each with their own story. There’s everything from a million dollar Mercedes to a Shelby Cobra, to restored Rolls Royce that was rescued from a burned out building and restored,” said Dempsey. “We’ll be giving out a special award this year in Ken Agate’s name and, of course, we’ll have Ken’s car there in the show in memory of the man who started it all.”

Naturally, the show will feature some music as local band The Studebakers take the stage to entertain with a high energy mix of classic rock and country. (Studebaker was the name of a car company in the early 1900’s.)

“You have to have a band,” said Dempsey, smiling. “After all, it’s not an official car show until the band plays ‘Mustang Sally’ and ‘Little Deuce Coupe’. That’s mandatory.”

There will also be a selection of food trucks on site and the Knights of Columbus will be on hand with their signature hamburger BBQ.

And, although the car enthusiasts in the show and the folks coming to admire these classic works automotive art love cars, the show will offer two bike corrals for the environmentally conscious riders who love cars but prefer to pedal their way to the event. Organizers expect to top their attendance figures of last year and expect more than 10,000 on site, so parking could be a challenge.

The festival happens on Oak Bay Avenue on July 21, from 8 am to 3:00 pm, and pre-registration is recommended for participants hoping to get their car into the show.

For more information on the show or to register for the show, visit