If you attend one show in New England, it has to be Wolfsgart. I know this is a strong statement, and there are a number of other great teams that put on delightful events in the area, but let’s start at the beginning.
Wolfsgart was founded in 2010 by Anthony Fitzsimmons and a few good friends who wanted to share their idea of a good time with other people who also appreciate European vehicles. Like any good event put on by dedicated organizers, it grows in a unique way. The group have recently added a night at a local brewery, which they’ve called “Brew Hop”, which was graciously hosted by Switchback Brewing on Friday night. This was a great opportunity to get up close, inside the brewery, with some of the featured builds from the Wolfsgart’s Alpha Class, which required a stringent application process for acceptance that is focused solely on build quality.
Just don’t spill your beer on any polished bits, please.
Saturday morning, the show officially begins. This year, you notice even fewer MK1 & MK2 Golfs & Jettas, but the attention to detail has grown. Air ride is present in just about any class, and forged three piece wheels will never go out of style. People drive over from the other side of the Champlain Valley Exposition grounds where they’ll be camping all weekend, polish the dust off their cars, and place them accordingly before cracking open a beer and swapping stories and the usual friendly jab to get that VR6 swap done in someone’s Jetta. See old friends from both sides of the US/Canadian border, and make a few more.
Like every show in the middle of the summer on the US East Coast, it rains. Hard. Several times on Saturday. And then subsides with plenty of daylight to appreciate the work on display. You notice more than a few friends have added different means of forced induction to their setup. Weasel your way into a short ride in someone’s car for the limbo contest, drink a couple beers, and meet some awesome dogs.
Alpha Class has become a show within Wolfsgart, where every entrant could be a class winner anywhere else. Simply getting to participate in this portion of the event is an honor enough. In here, you’re surrounded by some of the cleanest builds, owned by a great group of people who could chat your ears off about the details in the work they’ve done, if not for the fact that they also are walking the room admiring the beauty surrounding them. This is where some hope to debut their winter build that’s been running just a bit longer than anticipated, knowing the wait is always worth it. At the center of the room, the organizers even display the Battle of the Builds on lifts so spectators can admire every detail, top to bottom, and the judges can get as specific as they need in order to choose a winner.
Unlike Ocean City, where the police enthusiastically want to remind money spending modified car owners on vacation that they are able to write traffic violations for literally fucking anything, the town of Winooski embraces Wolfsgart. This is most notably shown on Saturday night, when Winooski Falls Way closes down for a display with cars, music, and pretty lights. Nearby restaurants greet the crowd with open arms, and regular folk are welcome to see all of the cars, and hopefully introduce the next generation of enthusiasts to a great hobby. Seven year olds borrow mom’s smartphone to take pictures of shined-up engines and wheels, and are later treated to the noise and excitement of watching bright colored cars spin tire upon exit, for their amusement. Then it’s back to camp for beers, grilled hot dogs, and a slip ‘n slide down the hill.
Every year, I look forward to Wolfsgart, and if you haven’t been, next year take a drive through the Green Mountains and come drink a beer with us. Just don’t spill on any polished bits.
Photography: Sadie Fortin
Words: Brian Buckley