Wekfest is a show that I was really looking forward to. I had been to the Wekfest a few years ago and was looking forward to going back to the show that is a little different than most. Why would it be different you ask? That’s not too hard a question to answer. Well, it is if you don’t really go to as many events as I do. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but, owning the magazine I tend to go out to any and all events that we cover. It’s something that I find exciting, and there’s no better way to report about something than by actually being there. I’m sure all of you reading this would totally think I was full of crap if you knew that I wasn’t the one actually writing about my experiences at the shows or anything that we attend. So, in order to make sense of what it is we cover, it only makes sense to talk about it from a first-person point of view. This doesn’t mean that we do that all the time, but, in order to paint a good picture for all of you, we have to be there, in the middle of the hornets nest. Sometimes, that means that we see things as they are, and not how we want them to be. Wekfest in Long Beach is an interesting study in things not being as good as I remember.
They say that the reason that nostalgia is so prevalent with people of certain ages is because they tend to remember things not how they were, but, how they want them to be. As a kid I remember watching GI Joe and the Ninja Turtles and loved every moment those cartoons were on. I would sit in front of a tv for hours and just watch everything that had to do with my favorite shows. As much as I loved them (and still do), now that I watch them, it is a little rough to see. The shows were definitely for kids, and seeing them as an adult is hard to watch. Years of growing up and watching a lot of movies and media over the years has expanded my pallet and allowed me to enjoy stuff that I wouldn’t have ever thought. But, seeing those shows now is definitely a lot harder than I remember. Not to say that they are bad, but, they aren’t as exciting as I would like to think. That’s kind of how I felt about this past Wekfest. But, not in the way that you may expect.
I was at Wekfest two years ago and I enjoyed the show immensely. It was everything that I wanted in a car show. The cars, the beautiful models and all of the liveliness leading into the show was just what the doctor ordered. The hype leading up to the show was huge, and just showing up to the parking lot left me with a huge impression. At nearly every turn there was something new to see. If it wasn’t the cars, it was the models, location (the show took place at the Queen Mary. How incredible is that?), vendors or even the internet/Instagram personalities (I’m looking at you Tiana Gregory). Having heard about the show for a few weeks I was looking forward to it, and was not disappointed in the least when I got there. But, that was then. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, or what chain of events came together to make it happen, but, I was a little disappointed with this last show.
Everything that I remember being good about Wekfest seemed to be kind of lacking at this last show (if you are curious about my experience at the last Wekfest, the article is posted here). While I didn’t go out expecting to be disappointed, it quickly became apparent from my arrival at the Queen Mary that it wasn’t going to be as awesome as I remembered it. There wasn’t any moment that set the tone of the show as there was when I first arrived. Like the show I had gone to from two years ago, there was a line of cars waiting just to get into the show. People were chomping at the bit to get it, and rightfully so. Just in that line alone were some really nice S2000’s, Evo’s and a few other imports. All of those cars gave people like myself a pretty good indication of what we could be expecting once we got inside. But, the one thing I noticed right away was the fact that, even though there were multiple lines going to the main parking, neither one of them were going very quickly. I couldn’t understand what the hold up was to be honest. Living in Southern California has made me pretty impatient when it’s come to anything having to do with traffic. You would think that living with that would make me immune to it, but, as I get older I get pretty pissed off a lot more easily. I know it sounds crazy, but, pretty much any time I have to wait, I get pretty cranky (to say the least). So, when I had to wait for at least 30 seconds to a minute before we moved up one car, I was incensed, and wanted to know what the deal was. It took a few minutes, but, the moment I got to the front of my line I got my answer.
The girl at the ticket window just stared at me when I pulled up, and the only response I had was to look back. It was pretty funny actually. I think when I pulled up she expected me to do something. But, I was waiting on her to see how much the parking was. After a few awkward seconds, the patron blurted out that the parking was $30…….Yeah, $30…… I didn’t even know what to say when I heard that. I thought, that it could be a few dollars, hell, maybe even $15 at the most. But, boy, was I wrong, it really was $30. I had just taken out some money from the day before, and I had exactly that much money. Who would have thought that I wouldn’t even be inside the show yet and I couldn’t even afford it. I am sure I could have had a good time hanging out in the parking lot (being broke as hell after paying for the parking), but dammit, that wasn’t the whole reason I came to the show. So, all I could do was sit there, grit my teeth, look at the long line of cars behind me and hand over the money. It was that moment that my mood changed. In an instant I was pretty upset with having to pay so much just for parking. I don’t know what it was the year before, but, I am pretty sure that it wasn’t that much before. To make things worse, I wasn’t even inside yet, and I was hoping that I could find an ATM or at least that the folks at the ticket line would take my debit card to pay the entrance fee.
Luckily for me, there was an ATM located near the main entrance. Unfortunately for me there was another line just for that ATM. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one that was caught off guard by that massive parking price. Just the line for the ATM had about 30 people, all waiting just to get cash from the ATM to pay for their tickets. Believe it or not, the line for the ATM was actually longer than the line to get into the show. To make things worse, the ticket prices were not posted anywhere, so, everyone there (including the families, of which I felt a lot of sympathy for) was taking a chance and hoping they had enough money to make it inside the show. After having waited from one eternity and walked right into another one (the ATM line I was standing in), I was not really in a happy mood at that point. I was especially upset when I learned that the cost to go into the show was less than the parking itself. Holy moly, when I heard that I clenched my fist and raised it to the cruel, cruel parking gods. As upset as I was though, I knew I was a man on a mission, and that checking out the show, no matter what craziness had led up to that, was the real point of being there.
Thankfully though, the show turned out to be a lot better than my experience on the outside. Right off the bat and right in front there were a ton of really nice cars. Scion (or, as I should now say, Toyota) FR-S’s were out in full force, and a black, white and red example (with R1 Concepts branding) stood out in front. Right next to that stood a few other wonderful examples of those same model cars. I especially liked seeing all of the Skylines around. While we are used to seeing the R35’s here, we are now able to import R32’s and (to my suprise) some R33’s as well. There were a few prime examples of those all throughout the show, and it was really nice to see those finally make it to our shores. Considering that they aren’t too expensive (compared to newer model cars), I am sure that we will be seeing more and more of those as time passes.
The one thing that I didn’t see too much of though were the models. I know it’s not something I go out and seek too often…Well, who am I kidding. I am a guy, and I do know a lot of the models in the industry, so, I was hoping that this show would have a lot of them like it did the last time I came to Wekfest. I don’t know if it was because the show took place during Memorial Day Weekend, but, the amount of models for the show was a lot lower than any major shows I have ever been to. It was odd, and definitely made it feel like a different event. It was almost as jarring as the lack of models at last year’s E3 convention. That was really weird, albeit, a story for another time. So, it was weird this time around seeing all of these vendors, and a lot of them lacking that promotional part of their booths. The biggest booth was the Legacy/Project Cars 2 one, and that featured a whole host of models. Some of them are pictured here, and a few I wasn’t able to snap a picture of. The biggest, and wonderful of surprises (in relation to models) had to do with seeing the always gorgeous Marie Madore there. She was working with Savini Wheels, and seeing how she commanded a presence is always a sight to behold. I don’t know what else to say other than the fact that she is gorgeous and a really wonderful person to interact with. You could see that her fans love her, and anyone that just happens to be around cannot help but take notice. She definitely is a force of nature, and thankfully I was able to chat with her if not for a little while.
It was a bit of a bummer though, I was on a time crunch during the show and had only a limited amount of time to shoot as much as I could. I was hoping to make it to the Mexico v. Croatia (soccer) game, and the show time for that fell just as the show was going to be wrapping up. Even though I was only there for a short while, and that terrible experience upon entry really hampered my mood, it all felt different once I made it inside. Being around all of the cars and vendors really made me appreciate the scene once again. It is because of the people behind it that I keep coming back for more. While I do hope that the organizers work that pricing system out, and perhaps promote the show a little more, I am really happy that I went to it. I know a lot of the folks there were as excited, and seeing some families walk around and enjoy the ambiance proved what this show was all about. I will definitely be heading to the next one. Hopefully I can make it over to the one of the other shows in their schedule. I am sure they will be just as awesome, with or without the backdrop of the Queen Mary. This show made me angry at what it was at the beginning. But, the moment I walked through those doors, a lot of those worries and issues just washed away. It was definitely worth it, and seeing a few of my family and friends at the event made it just that much more special.
Words and Photos By Daniel Navarrete
For more information on Wekfest and any upcoming Wekfest USA Shows check out their website at http://wekfest-usa.com/
This article was prepared or accomplished by Daniel Navarrete in his personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spektrum Magazine, or its affiliates.