July 26, 2001

Waterfest 2001 - One of the Biggest Shows Gets Down & Dirty
Article and photos by George Achorn

For many who attended Waterfest this year, the most memorable part of the show just might be the large amount of dust and dirt an attendee had to deal with throughout the day. That's a shame too, because that one downside will literally cloud the memory of what turned out to be one of the best Waterfest shows ever.

While longtime attendees may look back fondly on the SUNY experience, or any of the other locations, many will forget that Waterfest, especially in the last two years, has just gotten too large for most venues.

There were other downers too. The venue this year was literally in the middle of nowhere, which made access to the show difficult with cars lining up for miles just to get in.

Once in, if you weren't showing, attendees had to deal with a veritable dusty plain of a parking lot before they even got into the event. Leaving was much the same, only dustier cars and longer lines.

With all of this negativity, one might think the show was a dud. On the contrary, it was probably one of the best ever. Sure the prices were high, but shows usually are expensive. Sure there was plenty of dust and it was off the beaten path, but this year's show had so many new features, it really stood out from almost any other on the East Coast.

For those familiar with Waterfest, the benchmark show cars and autocross course were better off for the new location. The autocross had more room to play with, and the course was now not so tight as to be dominated by the older Volkswagen diesel guys who never had to shift a gear as was the result last year.

The show car area almost sold out ahead of time. That's typical for this show, and it's a definite shortcoming. Not turning cars away would be a great goal to set for the organizers, but it is important to remember just how many people turn out for this event. When you do so, it's easy to see how the folks who control Waterfest run out of space.

The cars were placed out on a field, where the grass was somewhat tall and the dust kept many owners on their toes trying to keep the cars clean for the eventual judging. The nature of the field made it difficult for those with the more showy displays to erect their creations in, around and underneath their cars. However, for the hardcore enthusiast, it was just that much easier to focus on the cars themselves.

A large mix of cars was on there to be seen in the show area. This show attracts plenty of entrants that include almost every water-cooled model Volkswagen has sold here in the US.

Audi participation was up considerably more than in the past, with numerous entrants taking part and a wide range of cars on display. The local Quattro Club USA chapter was also there, helping support what had traditionally been, up until this year, a very small part of the show.

Other Volkswagen Clubs were there in number as well. Club H20 was a major presence as usual, and the Long Island-based Autokrieg was another club that showed with a significantly large following. Other clubs like the Corrado Club and the Washington-based Raw NRG showed as well, bringing their own sizeable caravans in from points further out.

For the Waterfest veteran, the parking lot has always been a cool place to see many cars that either hadn't pre-registered or just didn't want to bother with the detailing rigors of showing. This year the parking lot was in several segments, and the number of cars was tremendous. We made the trek out to the lot, though the dust was so thick, we only focused on one of the four main parking areas out there while trying to keep the cameras and ourselves from getting too dusty.

Back inside the show, there were some new features that helped make the day. A drag strip made it possible for owners to further show what they had, though we know of at least one car that managed to hit a bump or some sort of obstruction and crack the oil pan. The real shame is that this particular car was none other than APR's Stage III 1.8T GTI and the occurrence happened on only its first run, ending the day early and not showing much for many of those eager to see the car perform.

A burnout contest and on-site dyno were also added to the show this year, as they are highly popular features that have begun to spring up at other events.

Over in Vendor's Row was another place where Waterfest 2001 proved to be the largest yet on record. More tuners, magazines and parts guys were peddling their wears than ever before, including the VWvortex booth where two of our own project cars and ProjekTT from AudiWorld were on hand for readers to check out.

In addition, tuners own cars were on display as well in the Vendor area and while most were pretty intense, HPA's 24-Valve twin turbo VR6 equipped Audi TT Roadster and Adrenalin's Scirocco 1.8T had to be some of the crazier cars on hand.

If you could deal with the dust and grime, this year's Waterfest had to be one of the best ever by a significant margin. Though there were logistical issues, in fairness to the guys at WF Productions and Rapid Parts, this show has grown into a different league that is much larger then perhaps even they imagined. What they have now is, if not the largest, then one of the largest Volkswagen enthusiast shows in North America. That's nothing to sneeze at, and we look forward to seeing how they top it all next year. Click here for the Official Waterfest Website

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