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."
Mid America Motorworks founder...
Mid America Motorworks founder and "Chief Cheerleader" Mike Yager (left) chats onstage with "King of the Kustomizers" George Barris.
The Mike Yager Garage Collection...
The Mike Yager Garage Collection was the second stop on our Funfest tour.
Inside, we saw many rare Corvettes,...
Inside, we saw many rare Corvettes, including race cars, development mules, movie cars, and low-mileage originals.
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).
Belying its outr appearance,...
Belying its outr appearance, the '73 Corvette Summer movie car is powered by a quite-docile 350 small-block.
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.
The midway featured a number...
The midway featured a number of radical race and show cars, including this re-creation of the classic "Glasses Gasser II" dragster.
Vendors in the Product Mall...
Vendors in the Product Mall offered for sale many of the items found in the Mid America catalog. Customers could pick up their order the same day, without waiting for delivery.
Longtime Corvette-parts vendor...
Longtime Corvette-parts vendor American Custom Industries showcased an arsenal of fiberglass body components and kits.