Known simply as Waterfest, what began nine years ago as a small regional Volkswagen car show in Mahwah, New Jersey, is now considered the county's preeminent Volkswagen and Audi enthusiast event.

Waterfest faithful have followed the show from one site to another year after year, and despite a couple of undesirable past venues, the event has continued to grow.

Now held at the world-class Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., Waterfest has the potential to grow even larger because of the impressive facility's accommodations, including an NHRA-approved drag strip, ample room for show and spectator parking, adequate space for vendors and an extremely large autocross course. The venue also has recently added an exceptional road course, providing the possibility of even more competition-related festivities.

The venue isn't the only aspect of the event that has changed, as 2003 was the first year with a two-day itinerary, providing all the time necessary to take in everything the event has to offer. This new weekend format seemed to work well and will most likely be a permanent addition to the schedule.

Considered the progenitor of all watercooled VW and Audi events, this year's show lived up to its reputation, attracting more vendors, show cars, swappers and spectators than ever before. Well over 400 cars were entered into the main show, and this didn't include the dozens displayed by various tuners throughout the vendor area. As usual, additional wonderfully equipped cars were seen within a non-judged area, where we estimated another 500 or more VAG models resided. Add the estimated 15,000 spectators, and simple math shows just how popular Waterfest has become.

Since the event's humble beginning, Volkswagen continues to be the dominant draw, show classes covering virtually every category. Mild to wild second-gen VWs of nearly every variety blanket the show area, as well as the competition-related events. While many MkI models were on hand, MkII through IV editions were lined up in seemingly endless rows. This year's field also featured a number of Sciroccos and Corrados.

Thanks to its seamless crossover appeal, the event is also the place to see some of the most impressive Audis in the land. While the show has always attracted a small sprinkling of VW's sister car, it wasn't until the late '90s, with the introduction of the popular A4, that the category began to really flourish. Each year since, Audi participation continues to grow in number, now encompassing all late models, including the S4, A6, A8 and TT. A few nice examples of the Avant and all-road were also on hand.

As Waterfest moves towards its tenth anniversary, it further solidified its status as the top North American event of its kind. Moreover, with various modified BMWs and Porsches displayed this year by vendors, including a 600-bhp+ 996-twin turbo from PES, there's the possibility for something even greater.

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