For those who weren’t there in 1994, the name ‘Waterfest’ was a play on “water-cooled” Volkswagen’s. The show was started by New York Volkswagen (and Audi) tuner Rapid Parts as an alternative event for owners of then newer Volkswagens who felt out of place at the plethora of air-cooled Volkswagen events around the country. Rapid Parts thought there was a need for a water-cooled specific show and eighteen years later, with consecutive record-breaking attendance, this event seems to suggest they were right.
Fast forward to 2012. The show has changed substantially since its first years held in the parking lot of a New York community college. Its home in more recent years has been Raceway Park in Englishtown, NJ – one of the few venues in the region that could contain this crowd of roughly 20,000 rabid fans. Event organizers repeatedly tell us that numbers continue to set records, though eyeballing the parking lot and comparing it with our memory seems to suggest this might not be entirely the case. Either way, it is still the largest Volkswagen show in the country and draws a huge number of people.
A more scientific method of measuring success might be sales figures. Polling big vendors such as APR, 42 Draft Designs and NGP suggests the growth hasn’t let up. Several chip tuners this year offered the usual row-upon-row of flashing stations while APR and Billy Boat exhausts both even offered free exhaust installation while you wait and on show grounds. The measured success of attendance may be debatable, but the growth of sales in vendor row seems indisputable.
This year we brought out our Beetle RS project car and from the all the comments and questions we got, people dig it. Our sister Audi site Fouritude brought along one of Audi’s LeMan’s winning LMP1 racecars, plus a German-spec Q3 and other goodies. Volkswagen’s booth across from us offered free posters, a very cool photography booth to photograph people’s cars and lots more.
The overall vibe this year was good and matched the near-perfect weather. Another WaterFest has come and gone making this 18 years of successful VW shows. That’s a long track record and one we hope continues for many years to come.
Our full gallery of photos (more than 1000) can be found below…
Photos by George Achorn and Anthony Garbis