Event Listings | Event Coverage
15th Annual Funfest for Air-Cooled
Story and photography by Kelsey Rhoney
Effingham, Ill. USA The rain did not keep guests away as Mid America Motorworks welcomed a significant crowd of Volkswagens and enthusiasts from around the world to Effingham, Ill. to celebrate the 15th Annual Funfest for Air-Cooled VW 2013. The Magical Mystery Funfest celebrated the hobby with 3 days of expert seminars, swap meet, fun judging, a headlining Saturday night concert, Water-Cooled show field and test drives sponsored by O'Brien Volkswagen of Urbana and more.
Funfest for Air-Cooled VW is known as the premier Volkswagen celebration in the U.S., with guests attending from all over the world. 2013 was no exception, as Funfest welcomed Belgium guests Bob Van Heyst from B.B.T. and Gunter Hofman from Custom Speed Parts, Germany, as well as Carsten Thrandorf and Bernhard Khadow from VW Classic Parts.
Funfest kicked off Friday as a stream of some 200-plus VWs toured scenic Effingham County on the Fun Run Road Tour led by Big Red, the World's Largest Baja Beetle, which weighs in at over 10,000 pounds. Big Red, who was created by The Walter Project, played tunes as The Fun Run transitioned into a parade into Downtown Effingham, where the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomed the crowd with live music, food and drink.
Another notable guest at the event was Damon Ristau, independent filmmaker and creator of "The Bus" documentary. Ristau, who came all the way from Missoula, Mont., screened his film throughout the weekend in the special Funfest movie theater and gave a special introduction to the film Saturday. The filmmaker was also in attendance to seek out footage for his upcoming prequel documentary on the Volkswagen Beetle.
New to Funfest for Air-Cooled VW this year was the addition of a special exhibit of WWII vehicles and memorabilia from the world famous collection of Dr. Mac Jones. The display included a Kübelwagen, Schwimmwagen, KdF-Wagen and other rare and unique WWII vehicles. The exhibit's grand opening was May 31, with the display remaining at the MY Garage Museum & Retail Store throughout the summer to raise money for the Effingham County Veteran's Memorial.
A highlight of Saturday afternoon was the Expert Panel moderated by Michael Yager Jr. The impressive panel consisted of Mike Yager, Chief Cheerleader of Mid America Motorworks, John Gunnell, a noted VW author, Bob Van Heyst of BBT, filmmaker Damon Ristau, Jeremy Vreeman of Motorworks Restoration, Carsten Thrandorf of VW Classic Parts and collector Dr. Mac Jones. The group discussed topics such as the overall pricing of the VW market and where it is going, the increase in price and collectability of 23 window buses, restoring versus keeping your VW original, "The Bus" documentary project, the WWII exhibit and how Dr. Mac Jones got started in collecting and more.
The Install Dome, where the likes of Mid America Motorworks, J&L Automotive, Klokkerhom, Key Parts, Inc., SCAT Enterprises, Atomwerk Engineering, Custom & Speed Parts, TMI Products Inc, PERFORMANCE CHOICE, Midwest AutoSavers, Motorworks Restorations and more handled on-site installations for VW enthusiasts. The popular Celebrity Choice Awards were given special attention with front row parking outside the Fun Dome and an award presentation. More than 45 registered guests received a commemorative art trophy as winners of the Celebrity Choice VW Judging Saturday and Sunday. During the Awards Ceremony Sunday, VW Classic Parts presented Bryan Sonderegger from St. Peters, MO with a $200.00 Best In Show Award. His 1964 Karmann Ghia Type 4 was chosen because of its great condition and German-style restoration.
Beatles hits filled the air Saturday evening as the most authentic Beatles Tribute Band, The Return, performed live inside the Fun Dome. The entertainment was moved inside the permanent structure due to rain so concert-goers could sing and dance along to a variety of #1 hits including I Want to Hold Your Hand, Hey Jude and Hello Goodbye. During a set change, a fireworks display presented by O'Brien Volkswagen of Urbana, captured guests attention in celebration of the 15 year milestone of the event.
from the weekend include tours of PERFORMANCE CHOICE manufacturing division,
Low Speed Slaloms, Exhaust Wars, Expert Seminars, test drives from O'Brien
Volkswagen of Urbana and more. Plans are underway for 2014 Funfest for
Air-Cooled VW, scheduled June 6-8.
Funfest for Air-Cooled VW
Delivers the Fun
Story and photography by Jennifer Hinterscher
Effingham, Ill USA. - Some 1,300 Volkswagens and 5,000 enthusiasts from around the world met at Mid America Motorworks in Effingham, Ill. to celebrate Funfest for Air-Cooled VW 2012. The three-day event honored the 1972 Volkswagen milestone of surpassing the Ford Model T as the most-produced vehicle with the 15 millionth Beetle rolling off the assembly line, securing its place in automotive history.
Funfest for Air-Cooled VW is known as the premier Volkswagen celebration in the U.S., with guests attending from all over the world. 2012 was no exception, as Funfest welcomed Belgium guests Bob and Linda Van Heyst from B.B.T., as well as Carsten Thrandorf and Bernhard Khadow from VW Classic Parts of the UK.
Funfest kicked off Friday as a stream of some 200-plus VWs toured scenic Effingham County on the Fun Run Road Tour. The Fun Run transitioned into a parade into Downtown Effingham, where live music and an outdoor movie screening entertained the crowd.
Attendees were part of a special Opening Ceremony where Mid America Motorworks Chief Cheerleader and founder, Mike Yager unveiled the weekend’s guest of honor, his 1972 Baja Edition Super Beetle. The newest addition to the MY Garage Museum collection, the Beetle still features original window stickers and boasts less than 800 original miles.
Because Funfest welcomes VW enthusiasts from all generations, Yager recognizes nominated attendees with the Passing on the Passion Award each year. Butch and Jane Sevila took home the prize this year with a 1965 Beetle Convertible that they restored together in time for Jane to have as a daily driver when she turned 16. The father-daughter pair even restored a 1966 Karmann Ghia so Jane could practice driving manual transmission in preparation for Funfest.
New to Funfest this year was the Install Dome, where the likes of RetroSound, EMPI, SCAT, Mid America Motorworks, Robert Bosch Inc., J&L International and more handled on-site installations for VW enthusiasts. The popular Celebrity Choice Awards were given special attention with the addition of a Winners Corral and staging area for award presentation. More than 40 registered guests received a commemorative medallion as winners of the Celebrity Choice VW Judging Saturday and Sunday. During the Awards Ceremony Sunday, VW Classic Parts presented Douglas Narczewski with a $200.00 Best In Show Award.
ZZ Top hits filled the air Saturday evening as Eliminator performed live at the outdoor concert. Concert-goers sought shelter inside Mid America Motorworks’ two permanent domes during an unexpected cloud burst until the skies cleared and America’s most authentic tribute to ZZ Top took the main stage.
Additional highlights from the weekend include tours of Performance Choice manufacturing division and the MY Garage Museum and Retail Store, Low Speed Slaloms, expert seminars and more. Plans are underway for 2013 Funfest for Air-Cooled VW, scheduled May 31-June 2, 2013!
To say that I was thrilled to go to my first VW car show is a gross under exaggeration. I was like a kid privileged enough to actually visit Santa's workshop at the North Pole. It was F.A.O. Schwartz for grown-up Volkswagen aficionados. Why I had never been to a show, ages before, is a very long and boring story and not for here. Yes, I have been a fan of the VW ever since a tot being shown the engine in the back by my Uncle Tom, who lived next door and who owned a pre-63 Beetle. After high school, my second car was a VW Rabbit L Diesel (my dad insisted that my first car be a bit larger... a '74 Buick Apollo). My second VW was a '74 1303 Super Beetle, etc etc etc. The passion never faded and continues to this day.
My friend, Jay, here in Toledo, OH, is affiliated with the Greater Toledo Area Volkswagen Club. So, when he managed to wrangle a joint car show with the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club and asked me to attend, who was I to turn such an offer down?
The days leading up to the event, called "Bug Fest," were absolute crap. I mean it. In typical North-Mid-Western-United-States fashion, the weather refused to be nice. It was Mid-September and the temperature had already dropped to full-on jacket weather. Furthermore, it rained constantly. I mean it just "pissed it down," as the British sometimes say. "Cats and Dogs" doesn't even cover the amount of rain we seem to acquire in this part of Ohio. More like "Elephants and Whales." So, as "Lake Parkwood" formed at the end of my block on, you guessed it, Parkwood Avenue, my hopes of a pleasant day at "Bug Fest" began to quickly dwindle. The Toledo area had originally been just a marshy, damp, watery swamp, when the first settlers came here. I became afraid the region would return to its rain-soaked roots.
But, as luck and the VW gods would have it, September 18th was a bright, warm, sunshiny day. I had originally dressed for much cooler weather, clad in a thick hoodie, jeans and warm "city hikers." Jay had convinced me to enter my own '89 VW Fox in the show, since there would also be a "Water-Cooled" division of cars competing for trophies and prizes along with the classic air-coolers. I spent all morning washing Klaus (all of my Volkswagens have had male, Teutonic names), polishing him, meticulously covering his tiny surface rust spots with touch-up paint, using "Armor All" on anything made of rubber, vinyl or plastic, etc. Before long, Klaus was gleaming white and (almost) reflective of his former brand-spanking-new beauty. Admittedly, he's a good "ten-footer." If you squint your eyes, and keep a good distance, you can imagine how my little VW must have looked in 1989. Actually, things aren't quite that dire, but there are some surface rust spots bubbling on the hood and front clip that give away the twenty-two years the little car spent living in Detroit, MI.
By the time I arrived at the show, the sun was at its zenith, and I was boiling hot! The VW Fox came standard with A/C (maybe a reflection if its Brazilian roots), but mine needed recharging. Plus, I did have the forethought to wear a light tee shirt under the hoodie, but I had managed to spill black coffee on it en route to the gig. So, I suffocated in thick cotton fleece until I arrived at my destination. Once there, Jay helped me out by buying a “Bug Fest” tee shirt to change into.
In typical fashion for Volkswagen lovers, I was greeted at the gate with smiles from other Volkswagen enthusiasts. Also, too, while I drove through the lot en route to the sign-up desk to enter Klaus into the competition. Mine was the only Fox on the lot at Ed Schmidt Volkswagen, in Perrysburg, OH, where the event was being held So, Klaus actually got many kind, admiring looks. It struck me, just then, that the “Bug Fest” was the first time my little car received such glances... at least since I’ve owned him and as far as I know. For the most part, he is largely ignored by passing motorists or pedestrians on the street. At “Bug Fest,” however, he was among family.
I had a bit of trouble concentrating as I filled out all of the necessary stuff to get my Fox entered in. So near and so many were the fantastic variations of Beetles, Ghias, Type II vans and trucks, etc. There was even a beautiful, seemingly untouched and mint Type 411 wagon. Super cool! I had, admittedly, not seen one in person since the 70’s, when I was a young kid! Naturally, too, there were a few Type III’s, Manx-style dune buggies, a VW-powered trike (bad ass), 181 “Things,” etc. The siren song of the puttering air-coolers filled the air and, though I love my Fox, I yearned to once again own an old Bug or similar.
Jay knew just about everybody, and their Volkswagens, so he showed me around the lot and described each owner, as well as how many VW’s they own. The Water-Cooled” section of the lot, where Klaus proudly sat sandwiched between a late-model Rabbit and a sweet Corrado (both in gleaming silver paint), was as impressive as that of the “Air-Cooled” division. .. if a bit smaller. The competition was stiff. Klaus was not only up against the afore-mentioned vehicles, but also: A slick, black Scirocco; a green New Beetle; two amazing Mk I Rabbits; a beautiful Dasher; a Mk IV Jetta in deep, brilliant blue with a reflective carbon job done in the center of the hood and onward.
Naturally, the “Air-Cooled” collection of vehicles was more vast and assorted. Every manner of Kombi, Riviera camper, Week Ender, Westphalia, single-cab truck, etc, was represented. The Beetles, too, came in just about any production year one might imagine. The earliest, I believe, was a ‘56 Oval with a rag-top sunroof. Fabulous car! Too were several Bugs ranging from ’57, ‘64, ‘66, ‘72, on up to one black “Mexi-Beetle.” The Beetles were on display bone stock and also slightly modified. Of course, too, were the requisite “Baja” Bugs, the flashiest of which was painted in Old Glory’s red, white and blue.
I fairly drooled over the 181’s, for they had been a passion of mine, in the ‘70’s and I had always hoped to own one... along with a fleet of other air-cooled VW’s. Ha! Not at the asking prices these days! Who knew, when I was so young, the Thing would become so very rare and short-lived in the United States?
When the trophies were doled out among the winners, I have to admit I was a little disappointed Klaus didn’t win even a consolation prize of some sort. I mean, he was the only of his kind there. But, oh well! I was content with having attended and entered the contest. Plus, my Fox and I rolled away with a really cool dash plaque commemorating his participation in the event.
One thing occurred to me after “Bug Fest.” The only person I had deliberately taken a picture of was my friend Jay... who stood in front of a nice, bright-yellow Beetle Cabriolet to give the impression he was posing in front of his own Volkswagen. Oops. I guess the jig is up on that one. Sorry, Jay. As I downloaded the dozens and dozens of photos I’d taken of (nearly) each vehicle that had been present, I realized that there was little very special about them. The photos, I mean. You can see pictures of Volkswagens, even old ones, nearly anywhere on the ‘Net. What would have made these stand out would have been if I could have gotten photos of the owners along with their cars. Or, if nothing else, if I had not been so distracted by all of the VW eye candy enough to stop and talk to some of the people present. So, I made a mental note to do just that upon my next time at a Volkswagen function. Fortunately, there was just such another event coming just around the corner in October... another joint effort between the Michigan and Toledo clubs... a Fall color tour. I shall regale you with that story in my next article. Peace.
Manchester Ontario. The V-dubfest show was, in short, another outstanding VW event put on by the VolksRus VW club. This two day event started on Saturday July 23rd with an All VW Poker Run which ran through Durham region with many interesting and scenic stops along the way.
This run was very well organized with stops at such places as the Slots at Ajax Downs, Hy Hope Farms and Archibald Orchards, just to name a few. I picked up some of the wine at Archibalds (they have their own winery) and I must say – it was really good!
The cruise ended at the Club House of Motor City Car Club. They graciously extended their hospitality to us, as, when we arrived, there was a table of snacks set out and some cold drinks waiting. We were most impressed and grateful for their thoughtfulness and generosity. The Clubhouse itself is a treasure trove of old posters and memorabilia, mixed in with practical space for the members to work on their cars. What an incredible atmosphere their Clubhouse has!
So much to see.In the evening after the poker run, participants met the Pickering Canadian Tire cruise night. Unfortunately, it ended a little early as it began to rain. The good news was, there had been no rain for the poker run and it was going to clear for the show the next day. All in all, a great kickoff to the show weekend!
The weather, for Sunday’s show, was perfect. It was held at Haugen’s Chicken & Ribs Barbeque in Manchester.We had a strong attendance for both air and water cooled. The variety of stock and custom rides was fantastic.
Kids were kept busy this year with games, a jumping castle and colouring contest. Proceeds from this yearly show went to the The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto. $3000 was raised this year, bringing this club’s total to $7000 for the past three years. This is something the VolksRus club is very proud of! Altogether, between Saturday’s fun cruise and Sunday’s well organized show, (including the great food at Haugen’s) this was an event not to be missed.For more on this show, please go to http://www.volksrus.ca/bugfest.php and click on the Photo Library. You can see many more pictures from this event including the award recipients.Looking forward to next year’s show!
Effingham, Ill. - Some 1,300 Volkswagens and 8,000 enthusiasts converged on Mid America Motorworks' corporate campus in Effingham, Ill. for "4 Wheels, 2 Days & Funfest - An Air-COOLed Event." The 13th Annual Funfest for Air-Cooled VW took place June 4 and 5, with a Fun Run Road Tour and Downtown Party kicking off the celebration Friday evening.
Fun Run participation increased by 15% this year, with 200 Volkswagens following Mid America Motorworks Chief Cheerleader, Mike Yager, through scenic Effingham. The Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau set the tone for the weekend with live entertainment by local musicians during the Downtown Party.
Several new aspects were incorporated into Funfest for Air-Cooled VW for 2011. Most notably, Funfest was moved to the north grounds to utilize the show field layout and give Funfest a connected atmosphere. Club Parking and special display parking for 1960s Woodstock-themed VWs were showcased along Funfest Boulevard throughout the two-day event. Camping, a popular part of Funfest for many enthusiasts, was given a larger role this year, with VW camping greeting enthusiasts as they entered the grounds.
"This year we are focused on giving our guests the best Funfest experience possible. I think that by making key changes and welcoming new activities, we were able to do just that, " Yager said.
Always a highlight of Funfest, Mike Yager presented the Platinum Bug and Passing on the Passion awards during Saturday's Welcome Ceremony. Dr. Darby Milnor and Corky Yager (Mike's older brother) were recognized with the Platinum Bug Award for their years of dedication and passion for furthering the VW hobby. Father and son duo, Dave and Ryan Marx, received the Passing on the Passion Award for keeping the VW passion alive from one generation to the next.
Special VIP guest, Bruce Meyers, gave enthusiasts an inside look at the history of the Meyers Manx Dune Buggy. He also gave tips on how to spot imposters, as the Meyers Manx that he created is the most copied vehicle in history. Meyers gave his approval and input on the Extreme Dune Buggy Makeover led by DuneBuggyArchives.com during Funfest. The group worked on a 1969 Meyers Manx Dune Buggy, including new wheels, brakes, engine and interior parts. The two-day project gave guests an up-close look at the steps involved with a makeover.
Additional highlights from the weekend include tours of Performance Choice manufacturing division and the MY Garage Museum and Retail Store, expert seminars, a Saturday evening performance by Mike Antrim and Family Zone activities.
Funfest for Air-Cooled VW is known as the premier Volkswagen celebration in the U.S., with guests attending from all over the world. Mid America Motorworks has decided to expand Funfest to three-days based on the overwhelming popularity of the event. Plans are underway for 2012 Funfest for Air-Cooled VW, scheduled June 1-3, 2012!
The VW Nationals
Story and photography by Lee Noonan
As my annual pilgrimage to the VW Nationals in Sydney was on the following day, at 10pm the night before, I decided I had better fill my Beetle up to get ready for the 300 kilometer drive which was to start early next morning. While driving to a NEW local gas station, my high beam headlamps didn't work. So after filling up with gas I attempted to find the problem under my bonnet, which I knew was just a loose connector, somewhere. While attempting to find the headlamp problem I knocked another connector off, so when I turned the key on... no alternator or oil lamp lights! After a few minutes of looking I closed the bonnet and drove home and noticed the voltmeter was showing the alternator wasn't charging as it needs the small light in the speedo to make it work. Once home I continued my electrical fault search and found the disconnected wire for the alternator and oil lights and now the high beam now also worked!
At 5:30am next morning I started my Beetle and away I went. Looking forward to the long drive of which half of it is over a mountainous narrow road with many very sharp and curvy corners and steep hills while at the same time straining my eyes for Kangaroos either on the side of the road or actually on the road. I did see about 15 Kangaroos on the side of the road during the trip and having to stop for one Kangaroo who was sitting in the middle of the road. As I stopped, he slowly jumped away. I was thinking at the time, "I should have had my camera mounted on the windscreen taking a video of the event." Before the Kangaroos, I had to pull over to the side of the road when blue and red flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirrors. A nice Police Officer (with a Radar gun in hand)] asked me if there was any reason why I was speeding? As I was doing 107 KMH, (I had missed seeing an 80KMH sign a while back) The 80 KMH zone was there on a side road, no houses or anything else, right in the middle of nowhere. Hmmm?
The rest of the trip was uneventful apart from the fact that my Beetle appeared to have lost a few horsepower along the way. It struggled up all of the hills and my engine had been going the best it ever had with my new SVDA Bosche distributor. As usual I got lost, even with a GPS in the car. So I arrived around 9:30am after following a Bay Window Type 2 who seemed to know where he was going. The 2010 VW Nationals had around 250 VWs including a large gathering of water cooled Volkswagens. One of my Sons had taken a large selection of used VW parts to the swap meet and I met up with the other semi-local VW owners at the show as usual.
At 3pm I left the venue finding my Beetle wasn't even keeping up with the Sunday Sydney traffic, I had to stop and refuel and have something to eat. Once back on the road, I noticed that my Beetle was going great again but by 4:30pm it was getting dark and I noticed that I had to operate my high beam switch a few times to dim my headlamps... and then...no high beams, only low beam. So I used my amber fog lamps to help light up the sides of the road to see if there were any Kangaroos around. I didn't see any and my Beetle was going great up the hills and around the sharp bends in the road. Although I didn't go over 80 KMH due to the Kangaroo problem, me not being able to see them and the Radar.
Half an hour from home I tested the high beam switch and it worked! Then a vehicle appeared and I tried to switch to low beam and it didn't. So I had to pull off the road and turn my headlamps off. I looked under the bonnet at the wiring, relays and fuse box but couldn't find anything.
I prodded, pulled and moved the wires under the bonnet, then tested the headlamps when no vehicles were approaching. I was there about 30 minutes and then PRESTO!! Low beams worked again but no high beams. At least I was back on the road home again . I arrived at 9pm, it had taken me 6 hours to drive home.
An uneventful day? I don't think so, and I won't be filling my Beetle up with gas at the new gas station again any time soon.
Story and photography by Loren R. Knapp
They did it again. Who did what you ask? Joe Chirco and General Manager Don Wiggins along with their new side kick and boy wonder Lemorris Harris pulled off a spectacular all FREE Volkswagen Extravaganza Show. The big event began Saturday October 17, 2009 with 80 plus Volkswagens lined up for a 30 mile cruise.
The caravan winded their way around the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona ending up at a FREE barbeque in the parking lot of Chirco’s. The lot was packed and burgers and hot dogs were a grillin’ into the early evening. Next morning “The Blues” and I arrived at Chirco’s at 4:30 AM and began lining up the cars and showing them where to park. All the money collected on the raffle prizes and engine blow competition was given to the local food bank along with food donated by all car entries.
The day ended with the engine blow out contest. They take a VW air cooled engine and run it full throttle with no oil until it blows. You pay a dollar to guess to the second how long it takes. The winner receives a $100 Chirco gift certificate. This year that engine held out for 3 minutes and 47 seconds. I believe that’s a record for the Chirco engine Blow out contest. They gave out lots of snazzy trophies and even though “The Blues” didn’t win this year we had a great time as always.
Funfest For Air-Cooled VW
EFFINGHAM, IL Mid America Motorworks corporate campus in Effingham, IL was invaded with Volkswagens of all types during the 11th Annual Funfest for Air-Cooled VW. Throughout the two day automotive show on June 6 and 7, 2009, there were over 1,300 Volkswagens and 8,000 enthusiasts that flocked the grounds at Mid America Motorworks.
This year Mid America Motorworks honored the company’s 35th anniversary along with Mike Yager's soon-to-be 60th birthday. Customers were invited to park their Herbie car with the Mid America Motorworks collection of Herbie cars to create an outdoor display in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of Herbie’s Hollywood debut in the movie “The Love Bug”.
“Each year, we all put our thinking caps on to develop new and exciting activities that we can offer to our guests,” said Mike Yager, founder and Chief Cheerleader at Mid America Motorworks. “Again this year, I think we achieved a fresh and original event.”
Mike Yager led over 160 Volkswagens on a 16-mile RoadTour/Cruise In through the scenic central Illinois countryside and around a beautiful lake. Mid America Motorworks switched this year’s tour up a bit by changing the tour to Friday night and ending at a local eating establishment for wine tasting, food specials, live music and games.
One highlight of the event was the 1st Annual Volkswagen Auction that was held late on Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of Volkswagen enthusiasts enjoyed viewing and bidding on over 35 Volkswagen vehicles in the auction. After the auction, a BBQ dinner was offered to the guests along with a FREE outdoor concert.
Some of the event’s other highlights were:
Plans are already in progess for the 2010 Funfest for Air-Cooled Volkswagens, set for June 4-6, 2010.