Late summer car show season hits full throttle Saturday with the annual Mount Pisgah Baptist Church Car Show at the Cumming Fairgrounds.
The Mount Pisgah show, now in its 15th year, often attracts entries from across North Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee.
"I think that's the reason the show's done as well as it did over the years," said church member and event organizer Danny Bearden, "is that we've done it not for our benefit, but for the Lord's benefit."
The event began when Bearden thought a show might make a good church fundraiser.
Proceeds from the $25 per car entry fee benefit Mount Pisgah's outreach efforts -- from providing Thanksgiving meals for families and Christmas presents for disadvantaged children to summer youth programs and helping seniors.
"As far as changing, the only thing that's really changed is we've gotten better at it," Bearden said. "And the show has grown from 56 cars the first year, to last year I think we had 155. And we've had as many as 250."
On average, the show attracts about 140 entries each August. Bearden expects about that many muscle cars, classics and hot rods to return to the fairgrounds Saturday.
"I'm just amazed at the people that come out," he said. "From cars that you just drive on the street to cars they haul in on trailers, that's worth $200,000, we have a wide spectrum of people."
Apart from rows and rows of gleaming cars, the show also includes a model car contest and a church deacon's special secret recipe.
"We also do homemade ice cream that we sell a lot of," Bearden said. "Last year, I think we sold close to 80 gallons in about three hours. People come back every year, even spectators, just to get the ice cream."
Though the Mount Pisgah event has become a late-summer tradition, cruise-ins and car shows are catching on at area churches.
Earlier this month, North Lanier Baptist Church held its inaugural Classic Car Cruise-In as a way to cap off its summer activities.
"It was just for pure fun," said outreach ministry assistant Kimberly Sizemore. "We had 51 cars show up, so it was great."
Sizemore said the Aug. 10 event went so well the church hopes to do it again next year.
In September, Mayfield Baptist Church in eastern Forsyth is planning its fourth annual Cruising in the Country event, a car show and crafts fair.
Mayfield member Debbie Martin said car owners pay an entry fee to benefit Mayfield's building fund. Participation has nearly doubled over the past three years, from 50 to 90, and Martin is planning for that many or more cars Sept. 27.
"We seem to be growing every year," she said.
For Bearden, classic cars and Christianity make a good mix. He sees the show more in terms of leading people than leaded gas.
"The main thing about the car show is that it's a witness tool for us as Christians and our church to help people," he said.
"Maybe there's somebody there at the show that don't believe in God, that don't go to church. Maybe there's something there they'll see in us, as we're working, that they might want to go to church."