Nothing seems to divide the VW community more than the question of VW shows. Some people think they are all rubbish, some think they’re all great and some like a few of them but not others. Driving back from the SkegVegas show yesterday, Joy and I were talking about what makes a good event, and what makes a bad one.
Although we’ve been to most of the big shows over the years this was our first time at SkegVegas, ( got to be the best name, even if Skegness is actually miles away), and I was keen to see a show that seems to be popular with everyone who has ever gone.
As you’d imagine Joy’s idea of a good show is slightly different from mine. I have fairly basic requirements; I want to see decent live bands, I want good beer and I want to see loads of interesting old vehicles. And they don’t have to all be VWs. So, during the day I like to put Leo on his lead and wander round the ‘Show and Shine’, the For Sale area and then, best of all, round the camping areas to see how other people set themselves up when they go away camping. Joy does tend to get a bit bored with this, and you’ll often find her sitting in the sunshine with a deck chair and a good book.
What floats Joy’s boat at an event? She has always loved car boot sales, charity shop etc and so she likes to wander round the stalls to see the latest VW accessories on offer. Some people refer to this stuff as ‘tat’ but to be fair it’s all part of the scene and helps to keep the whole thing going. At SkegVegas we nearly bought a little VW neckerchief for Leo, matching veedub tee shirts for the grandkids and a Manchester Bee pennant with a four metre flag pole. Stuff like that. It’s not all second hand exhausts and bumpers. In the end all we bought was a new barrel for our faulty rear door lock. Not very exciting but at least we can lock the Sick Bay now.
The one thing that we both agree is really important for a good show is the standard, and choice, of food available from the various mobile caterers. For example we agree that Camperjam is excellent in this respect whereas some, such as Busfest, are pretty poor – all burgers, hotdogs and fish’n’chips. However I’ve got to say that our best experience has to be SkegVegas. The variety was amazing with stalls offering Indonesian dishes, Caribbean food, wood fired pizzas and a stall dedicated to various types of crepes and pancakes. At the pinnacle however was our very own Pop Top Kitchen run by Kerry and Matt whose catering skills are legendary amongst those people who have been at Techenders on those occasions when he has provided lunch.
Speaking of Matt, a lot of people on the Late Bay forum have been following his thread about his Subaru conversion. Unlike some, Matt has done every bit of this project himself. He has sourced the parts, the engine, everything right down to the water pipes, and installed it all himself. And just to make you feel totally inadequate, he is completely self taught. He even installed a hydraulic clutch while he was at it – I didn’t know such a thing existed!
Just going back to what Joy wants at a weekend event – she wants plentiful and very clean toilet facilities. And to be fair so do I, but I was brought up in a family of five kids so I am probably a bit more cavalier in this regard. Joy won’t use the loos unless they are ok and SkegVegas did not score well here. Not enough of them and not always clean. I did take a photo but decided against posting it.
Anyway, so the food got top marks but the beer was a disappointment. Unusually for us we forgot to bring any drinks so we had to rely on what was on sale. At Camperjam you get real ales and craft beers but here it was only Thatcher’s cider, Foster’s lager and John Smith’s Smooth, (whatever that is). Our usual routine is to take a couple of camp chairs to the music tent and settle in for the night with some red wine for me and gin and tonic for Joy. At SkegVegas I tried a bottle of Bulmers blackcurrant cider but it was horrible so had to settle for Thatcher’s on draught which was better than nothing. There was gin for Joy but the only tonic was the low calorie stuff that she hates. So she settled for lemonade and lime as her mixer. So, not great but as usual the drink got better as the night wore on.
And what about the live music? A lot of shows tend to put on tribute acts which can be quite good fun – Dolly Parton and the Foo Fighters were great at Camperjam this year. But I’d rather see bands doing their own stuff with the final act ripping it up with Sixties covers. ( If you’re from Stockport you’ll have heard of Andy Rayner’s Reactions – that band would go down a storm at any VW event).
Funnily enough at SkegVegas we saw a couple of really good bands and also the worst act I have ever seen anywhere. This guy was doing ‘electronics’ and god it was tedious. All clanging, pinging and whale calls. He kept saying that it was all his own work and even if we didn’t like it, it was really good stuff. At the end, when the tent was nearly empty, he said thanks for listening, ‘even if it wasn’t your cup of tea’. Like the toilets, I am not going to post a photo. Luckily he was one of the early acts, things could only get better and they did.
There are other things that contribute to the enjoyment of a show and one of those has got to be the weather. We arrived on Friday in pouring rain and parts of the field were rivers of mud. Shades of the famous Camperjam that got flooded out a few years ago, ‘Swamperjam’. Fortunately it dried up on the Saturday but it was very cold. I was in a tent, (Joy sleeps in the van), but as it was mid August I didn’t bring a cold weather sleeping bag and I froze both nights. I’m sniffling and sneezing as I write this now. But they have no control over the weather, just as they can’t do much about my final factor, which is the location.
We enjoyed SkegVegas because the drive there was fantastic. We had never been in this part of the country before and we thought the Lincolnshire Wolds countryside was beautiful. That was a nice surprise as we were expecting the type of grim scenery you get as you go east in Yorkshire, but this journey was delightful. And there were no traffic jams like you encounter when you go to shows that oblige you to use roads like the M5 and M6. An added bonus was that Joy has an old school friend who has lived all over the world but now lives in Lincolnshire. They had not seen each other for 34 years but we were able to meet in a local pub on the way home. A fascinating person with an amazing wealth of experience. That meeting alone would have made for a worthwhile trip.