FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – A Bavarian-themed little community in “The Thumb” area of Michigan named Frankenmuth was recently listed by a travel website as one of the “most magical winter wonderland towns in the U.S. for 2022.” Indeed, road-trip warriors familiar with driving in The Mitten State – or even billboard spotters who travel up and down the I-75 corridor – have likely either been to or have seen signs for Frankenmuth, which is home to Bronner’s, “The World’s Largest Christmas Store,” as well as the mega family-style restaurants Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn, where you can get their “World-Famous Chicken Dinners.” But for enthusiasts, this little tourist town is known for its yearly Frankenmuth Auto Fest, which happens the weekend following Labor Day.
Held on the grounds of Heritage Park, the Frankenmuth Auto Fest draws nearly 2,500 unique vehicles of all makes and models. If classics and pre-1987 are your thing, then you’ll want to head in on either Friday or Saturday. If you’re more into modern vehicles, the show field opens up to all vehicles from the 2022 model year or earlier on Sunday. If you can manage to pull yourself away from the big Saturday car show, Frankenmuth offers plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment for the whole family, with specialty stores, a local brewery and even a wine-tasting shop. Friday night there’s a Big Block Party from 5-10 p.m. on Main Street, and on Saturday night the event hosts a live band under the pavilion with dancing, food and beverages. (Frankenmuth is the home of rock band Greta Van Fleet.) On Sunday, the enthusiast-chosen people’s choice awards ceremony begins at 1 p.m., where some 60 German Steins are awarded as the “trophies” and car jackets are given to the top 25 vehicles.
As he does most every year, Bill Cook – our roving Ford Performance car-show photographer and a Ford marketing retiree – attended the annual show this past fall and told us, “I know it’s a three-day event, but I always attend on Saturday. After the Woodward Dream Cruise, I’d say it’s my favorite one-day car show. Participants come from all over: Canada (with a huge turnout since travel restrictions were lifted this year), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, plus the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan.”
Cook noted that “it takes approximately 540 volunteers to make the show run, including groups such as the Lions Club, VFW, Rotary Club, and local schools and churches. Plus, the event has donated over $1.8 million to numerous charities over the last 12 years.” It doesn’t get much better than that. Cook took pictures of all the notable Fords that he found on display at this year’s 39th annual show so that we could share his photos with you in the gallery below:
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY BILL COOK