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Founding father


John Baines' idea for Lake Oswego car show pays off big

The people of Lake Oswego have enjoyed the Oswego Heritage Council Collector Car and Classic Show — with its beautiful cars, boats and water skiers — for so long that they might take it for granted.JOHN BAINES

But with the 14th edition of the event to be held this weekend, maybe they should thank the man who started it all.

It was John Baines who got the idea back in 1999, and he has had the good fortune to see his idea not only become a success but get bigger and better every year.

“My wife, Kathy, and I were visiting our daughter in New York, and we want on a drive to see the scenery one day,” Baines said. “We saw a park where there were 30 or 40 cars on display, and I told Kathy, ‘You know, that’s something we could do in Lake Oswego.’”

Baines wasted little time getting the ball rolling. He was president of the Oswego Heritage Council at the time, and his idea for a car show was enthusiastically received. However, the city wanted it held at the newly built Millennium Plaza Park. Sixty cars showed up for the first couple years of the show, but Baines was thinking bigger.

When the city downtown rebuilding project closed off the use of Millennium Plaza Park for the show, Baines got to go to the place he had wanted all along, George Rogers Park. For years now the car show has attracted the maximum number of 260 classic automobiles.

But Baines' show was by no means finished growing. In 2006, Baines was approached by show sponsor Jim Tower with the suggestion of having a classic boat show at the same time as the collector car show.

“I thought, ‘What a perfect idea!’” Baines said.

Thus, 40 classic boats now sail into Lake Oswego every August. A few years later the Willamette River was used as a venue for larger boats, like the historical PT 658. The addition of classic water skiers three years ago was the cherry on top of the cake.

Baines can be pardoned for basking in success.

“What makes this show incredibly unique is we have a river and a lake within 100 yards of each other,” Baines said. “What other city has that? It’s just amazing. I am proud to have been the creator.”

Baines has some kudos to pass out. Like to his pal Vic Keeler, who was instrumental in getting the car show started. Kristin Winn has been “a godsend” as director of the classic boat exhibition, while OHC Executive Director Jude Graham comes in for rave reviews for her handling of the entire event.

For this coming weekend, Baines could not be blamed for sitting under an umbrella, sipping a cool beverage and complacently enjoying everything going on around him.

Instead, he and a few friends will be parking all of the cars in the show. It’s a big job, but somebody has to do it.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., the weekend will be kicked off by the arrival of “Miss Wahoo,” a 1957 U-77 Unlimited racing hydroplane, at Foothills Park. The water ski spectacular on Lakewood Bay starts at 3 p.m.

On Sunday the cars and boats will be on display from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Venues include George Rogers Park, Foothills Park and docks, Millennium Plaza Park and Lake Oswego Corporation docks.

For complete show information, go to oswegoheritage.org.