Funfest...is a "must attend" for all enthusiasts. The camaraderie between the Corvette people and the folks at Mid America Motorworks is impressive to see. The show is very well organized; the Mid America team clicks like a well-oiled machine. The event is called Funfest for a reason: It's a perfect, fun-filled, festive occasion of friends, hobbyists, and cars, cars, cars! Put it on your calendar-you won't regret it.
-Wil Cooksey, Corvette Plant Manager
Each year, Mid America Motorworks effectively doubles the population of tiny Effingham, Illinois, by throwing its Corvette-themed Funfest celebration. Vettes from all over the United States-more than 15,000 of them in total-descend upon this Midwest micropolis for three days of shared enthusiasm, renewed friendship, technical tutelage, and vehicle showcases, all focusing on America's favorite sports car.
This year's event was held September 21-23 at the Mid America Motorworks Campus, a sprawling, 150-acre facility that easily accommodated the 50,000-plus Corvette lovers in attendance. The theme this year was "Celebrating a Corvette Summer."
"This is the 14th year we have held our customer-appreciation party," said Mike Yager, the company's founder and "Chief Cheerleader." "Every year we have seen significant increases in participation. The camaraderie among this enthusiastic group of Corvette lovers is really gratifying to witness."
Hollywood car-customization legend and guest of honor George Barris agreed. "My feelings about the Funfest cannot be put into words, but I'll try. How about 'outstanding, fantastic, terrific, unbelievable'? It was amazing to have such a great car show in between cornfields and cow pastures. [The Yagers are] a super family, and they have the most organized and friendly staff. I had a great time meeting and greeting all."
Show highlights included the Mike Yager Garage Museum Under the Big Top, a personal appearance by "King of the Kustomizers" Barris, and special guests Dave McLellan (Former Corvette Chief Engineer), Tom Wallace (GM Vehicle Line Executive, Performance Cars), Wil Cooksey, Billy Boat (Former Indy Car racer and owner of B&B Exhaust), Gordon Killebrew (C4 guru and former Corvette Assembly Plant Engineer), and Ken Herring (Technical Advisor, Speed Channel's PINKS).
Corvette authors Richard Newton, John Gunnell, Mike Antonick, Dave Emanuel, Tom Benford, and Phil Berg were on hand to autograph their books. There were technical and lifestyle seminars, ladies' events, celebrity-choice awards, manufacturers' displays, and even an installation alley for light modifications such as exhaust systems and cold-air kits. To top off the festivities, there was a full-length concert performance by '70s pop legend Three Dog Night.
"Attendance grew over 20 percent from last year," said Mid America Motorworks PR chief Cheryl Habing. "A thousand more Corvettes participated this year over last year."
Although it is now widely considered the largest single Corvette gathering in the United States, Funfest's beginnings were humble: In 1994, 350 cars and their owners convened in Effingham for a "family style" get-together celebrating Mid America's 20th Anniversary.
Got your popcorn ready? Join us as we take a whirlwind tour of Funfest '07.
Want to help Mid America break the 20,000-car mark at next year's Funfest? Registrations are available by visiting www.mamotorworks.com/funfest or calling (800) 500-1500. Funfest '08 is scheduled for September 19-21.