By Kris Hansen
I was chatting with contributing photographer Joel Boucher about waterfest recently, while working on a new angle to write about what is undeniably the king of all VW and Audi shows, and he brought up a very good point- the Waterfest formula is so well developed that even though on the surface it appears to be more of the same, Waterfest continues to draw positively huge crowds of vendors, participants and spectators. This is all thanks to the constantly evolving tuner scene, new offerings from VW and Audi, as well as the promise of Waterfest providing a well thought out show format, with many activities for all involved.
This year, the 19th iteration of Waterfest, was no exception. Held again in Old Bridge, NJ at Raceway Park, we noticed more vendors than in previous years, a jam packed exhibition lot, and huge crowds at all of the various vendor booths. Waterfest clearly still has the magic working.
Even though the weather was brutal, it appeared to us that the crowds easily matched previous years Saturday attendance, and that’s taking into account that we reckon many people held off coming to Waterfest on Saturday in favor of the evening event, Afterfest.
Getting back to the innovations that keep Waterfest fresh, Afterfest was born in hopes of giving Waterfest attendees a safe place to hang out on Saturday night, to keep the area’s police departments from going into full on riot mode protecting the various hotel and restaurant parking lots.
All accounts indicate that Afterfest was a big success, and hopefully this is something that is continued in years to come. As a relative late comer to the Waterfest scene (my first Waterfest was 2007), I missed most of the legendary huge crazy after-parties. Not that I am normally one to participate in such madness, this is a large part of what makes Waterfest what it is.
Building an event, held at the same venue, which allows most of what made the after-scene what it was to take place in a completely safe way, it’s just cool, and smart.
The dynamic of Sunday was a little different this year, as the parking lot that normally hosts the Exhibition cars had been torn up, and was somewhat rough. It did seem to our eyes that there were much fewer cars back there than in years past, though we didn’t actually count.
As always, we saw a huge number of well modified Audis in both lots, with quite a few “outside the box” modded cars. A B5 A4 with a 4.2 V8? Check. Yellow B5 S4 with huge fat purple wheels? Check. Orange PlastiDipped TT? Yep. There was one of pretty much everything there this year.
Waterfest always seems to have great competition in the drag racing as well, and this year, even though it seems that there were fewer participants than in years past, there was no shortage of excitement, especially when between runs, an airplane landed on the Raceway Park dragstrip – the pilot clearly confusing that for the neighboring Old Bridge airport.
We had a blast covering Waterfest 19, met many Audi enthusiasts, saw many friends, and truly enjoyed this great event.
With next year being the 20th Waterfest, we’re sure that the organizers will pull out some special events, and we’re looking forward to that!