NEW ULM - On Sunday, the 2014 Autofest matched last year's record turnout, with well over 300 vehicles exhibited. The vehicles ranged for modern sports cars to classic vintage vehicles.
During the past few years, Autofest has grown into a popular event with people coming from all over southern Minnesota to exhibit their vehicles.
With so many car enthusiasts in one location, it is not hard to find strong opinions in car preference. "The people that come here are pretty dedicated to their cars," said event official Larry Fredrickson, who admitted that he was General Motors man. "I had a '36 Ford, but I put a Chevy motor in it."
A 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is among the first vehicles registered at Autofest. Cars from the 1950s were heavily represented at the event.
Rat rods have been growing in popularity at Autofest. Rat rods are throwbacks to the earliest hot rods and are typically left unfinished but heavily customized.
Debates center around which decade had better cars, the '50s or '60s. Dedicated car enthusiasts analyze the subtle differences between a burnt orange and a flamboyant orange paint job. No definitive answers are ever reached - it's just part of the fun.
Autofest has expanded. This year's event actually began on Saturday night with a free drive-in movie in the Maday Motors and Joe's Campers lots. A few hundred vehicles and their passengers turned up at dusk to view the classic car film "American Graffiti." A screen was set up on one end of the lots, and the audience listened to the movie audio by dialing to a certain frequency on their FM radios.
Event organizers were initially concerned that dire weather forecasts for the weekend would keep many away, but the weather remained calm.
During the film a few lighting flashes could be seen in the distance. By Sunday morning the sky was bright blue and sunny. A few car owners waited to register later in the day to be on the safe side, but the turnout was roughly equal to last year.
Frederickson said that Autofest must be doing something right because in 14 years there has not been a single rain out.
The popularity of the drive-in movie prompted Autofest officials to consider future film nights as long as the crowds continue to attend and the rain stays away.