Where is the center of the Corvette universe? While many areas make that claim, few if any offer as much excitement for ‘Vette enthusiasts as Mid America’s Funfest. Held every year since 1994, this massive convergence of Corvettes in southern Illinois is the event of the year for enthusiasts of all stripes, whatever era or model they prize. Summarizing all the attractions of this four-day event is nearly impossible, but we’ll hit a few of the highlights, and let the pictures tell the rest of the story.
At first sight, you can’t miss two big fixtures (literally) on the show field: the Fun Dome and Install Dome. Under these enormous tents, all sorts of Corvette lifestyle accessories and aftermarket upgrades are readily available – everything from lifestyle apparel to power adders. But it’s not just about the merchandise, as Mid America’s “chief cheerleader” Mike Yager and his crew do everything possible to make the Funfest live up to its festive name. They provide all sorts of entertainment from a Fun Run to a free rock concert, and much, much more.
The event kicked off Thursday morning, as attendees’ Corvettes began pouring onto the 160-acre show field. Later in the day, more than 500 of them lined up for a scenic drive through Effingham County, led by Mike Yager in comical “FLIPOVR” pickup, and ending up in the town square.
Downtown, a Welcome Fest sponsored by the Effingham Convention and Visitors Bureau included live entertainment by Allie Keck, a performance by Cayla’s Dance Team, and an impromptu Corvette show, with a trophy that was awarded by the town’s mayor.
On Friday, Corvette Funfest kicked into high gear, with Corvettes streaming onto Funfest Boulevard three abreast, all eager to enjoy the festivities. Expert seminars delivered tips, tricks and the latest information on everything from “Racing Headers” to “Performance Tuning” and “Building a New Corvette.”
New to Corvette Funfest this year, enthusiasts had a chance to have some professional pinstriping done on their fuel-rail covers, helmets, cell phone cases and even high heels, expertly done by Louie Allison and Rick Losh. They could also get the autographs of their favorite Corvette and automotive celebrities, during the scheduled celebrity autograph sessions.
Friday evening featured the annual Corvette Funfest Charity Event, raising funds for Fear Nothing. The local non-profit organization was created by two-time cancer survivor and former Mid America Motorworks employee, Jodi Waymoth. With a laid-back Luau theme, the Charity Event welcomed guests with colorful leis and included a silent auction, a live auction, authentic Polynesian dancing and fire throwing, and tributes to those who fought the fight against cancer. Proceeds from the evening will be donated to Fear Nothing, which uses half of its funds to assist local families going through cancer treatments and the other half to fund private cancer research.
Saturday began with the Opening Ceremony at the Funfest Pit Wall, where Mike Yager and the whole Yager Family officially welcomed their guests to Corvette Country. Max Brockhouse with the Solid Axle Corvette Club and John “Hutch” Hutchinson and Maureen Waller with Grand Sport Registry announced plans to coordinate both of their events with Corvette Funfest 2016.
Saturday also gave guests a chance to hear what the experts think of the latest trends in the Corvette industry, with the annual Expert Panel. Event emcee Dennis Pittsenbarger hosted the panel, asking Mike Yager, Fred Gallasch, Kevin Mackay and Lance Miller to give their insights on what makes the Corvette hobby so strong.
The Funfest Stage was then the setting for the annual Corvette Funfest Fashion Show, where industry celebrities strutted their stuff, showing off the latest Corvette fashions and giving out some great prizes.
The highlight of the day came with the Saturday Evening Concert. As registered guests and concert goers awaited the band, the Yager Family announced winners of the Ron Fellows Performance Driving School Weekend Course, three $500 Gift Certificates from Condon Skelly Collector Insurance and the pinstriped Fender Strat that was autographed by the band. Mike Yager introduced David Marks and the Surf City Allstars, as is tradition, and the band took the stage with Beach Boys classics.
Sunday wrapped up with the annual St. Anthony’s High School Corvette giveaway, featuring a 2016 Corvette. Once the final awards were given out Sunday just before noon, attendees went home a bit weary but happy, after roaring through the heartland of Corvette Country.