Corvette … “This is America!” America’s favorite sports car shines bright every September at Corvette Funfest in Effingham, Illinois – Vacation Focus

Corvette … “This is America!” America’s favorite sports car shines bright every September at Corvette Funfest in Effingham, Illinois – Vacation Focus – Brief Article

Randy Mink

Proud and passionate about their prized possessions, Corvette owners are avid hobbyists who treat their coveted coupes with doting affection. They like to show off their cars, especially to one another.

Even people who don’t consider themselves car crazy get a kick out of walking through rows and rows of Corvettes shined and buffed to their Sunday best. That’s because the classic roadster is more than a sports car–it’s a symbol of nostalgia and true piece of Americana. It epitomizes the spirit of cruising down the open road and our nation’s love affair with the automobile.

Through next June the Chevrolet Corvette is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The first `Vette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan, in 1953. Since then, more than 1.2 million have been built and sold.

The ninth annual Corvette Funfest, September 21-22 in Effingham, Illinois, spotlights the countdown to the 2003 milestone. Attracting up to 8,200 Corvettes and 35,000 owners and spectators, the event is sponsored by Effingham’s Mid America Designs, the world’s leading supplier of parts and accessories for vintage and late model Corvettes, and held at its sprawling corporate campus.

This year Funfest will hold a raffle to benefit the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky (site of General Motors’ Corvette factory since 1981). The grand prize: A 2003 Anniversary Corvette with VIN #1953. A total of 1,953 tickets will be available at $150 each; 53 other prizes will be given.

Car show entrants from 40 states and a dozen countries come to Effingham to sell, swap, and talk Corvettes. For spectators, the sleek, low-slung cars–convertibles, hardtops, even some racing models–provide a visual feast in a rainbow of colors, from electric yellow and fire-engine red to soothing aqua and a palette of two-tones. Bring plenty of film. Admission is free.

Admiring Corvette after Corvette in the seemingly endless parking lot, you see how each vehicle reflects the personality of its owner.

As you watch Corvette owners polish the chrome and strike up conversations with them, it becomes obvious these stylish machines gleaming in the sun are their “babies.” Said one observer, “People treat these cars like they’re a member of the family, maybe even better.”

Last year’s event, held the weekend after the September 11 terrorist attacks, took on a heart-warming patriotic tone, with many cars decked out in red, white, and blue. Surveying the field of Corvettes, Mid America owner Mike Yager remarked, “This is America.”

Corvette Funfest-goers can cruise down memory lane at MY (Mike Yager) Garage Research and Development Center/Museum, which houses more than 40 rare Corvettes in a street-and-storefront setting, plus Corvette-related memorabilia like toy cars and plastic model kits. One artifact is the custom car that starred with Mark Hamill in the 1977 movie Corvette Summer. The museum (free and open daily except Sunday) sits behind a restored 1910 gas station with antique pumps and period signage.

Other Funfest diversions include a food court and vendors’ stalls stocked with everything from floor mats and polish to T-shirts and leather jackets.

Seminar topics range from collector car insurance to technical tips on engine performance. “Celebrity” autograph sessions feature Corvette engineers and authors of Corvette books. There’s also a fashion show.

On both Saturday and Sunday, celebrity judges choose their favorite cars (not based on any set of standards). Fireworks spark Saturday evening.

Mid America, which has Volkswagen and Porsche catalog divisions, sponsors a Beetle Funfest in June and Porsche Funfest in July.

Contact: Mid America Designs, Inc., 1 Mid America Place, Effingham, IL 62401, (217) 347-5591, www.madvet.com; and Effingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, 201 E. Jefferson Ave., Eftingham, IL 62401-0648, (800) 7720750, www.effinghamil.com.

COPYRIGHT 2002 World Publishing, Co. (Illinois)

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group