The term ‘water’ in the name WaterFest refers to the passing of generations. At one time you could find shows for air-cooled Volkswagens on any given weekend throughout the summer. The newer and so-called ‘water-cooled’ cars coming out of Volkswagen and Audi made for a new generation of enthusiast owner and as such made a case for a split and a show all their own. Now in its 19th year, Waterfest not only signifies a truly mature and gargantuan segment, but one that has given birth to multiple generations in its own right.
Over the years the show has called any number of venues home – from a community college in New York State to a dust-covered campground south of the border in New Jersey. Eventually the event came to land at Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ thanks to acres of tarmac capable of housing so many German automobiles, a large ¼ mile drag strip and even an air strip, a moto-cross track and even a lake for water-skiers are also part of the grounds. While Waterfest has called Englishtown its home for years, this 19th year running marked several notable changes both intended and unintended. First off, that same super storm Sandy that wrecked the nearby Jersey shore also flooded what is usually the show’s exhibition field. Though not yet repaved, the space had been freshly leveled and smoothed just in time for the event. As a result, the parking lot usually reserved for the traditional Waterfest autocross was taken over for even more exhibition and those looking to dice it up on a closed cone course headed to the opposite side of the drag strip in order to square off against competitors.
The last, and likely most significant change for Waterfest was the addition of the aptly named Afterfest. Attendees have been complaining for years about Waterfest’s lack of evening activities and local police have gotten more and more strict by the year at breaking up any unwanted gatherings of car enthusiasts. For this year attendees were invited back to the track until 10 PM to enjoy a DJ, sanctioned burnouts, limbo contest for bagged cars and more. As for the show, it again seemed bigger and better than ever. Given the longevity and growth of the segment, it’s not surprising that many segments and directions of owner intent and style have blossomed over the years into full-blown movements be they wildly modified or clean OE+, bagged show cars or high performance racecars.
In the end Waterfest still delivers the biggest Volkswagen enthusiast show in North America and we’re looking forward to the 20th Anniversary next year.
Our complete photo gallery can be found HERE. Enjoy!