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NOV 30, 2023 | Photos By Bill Cook

Fine Fords Flavor Ever-Growing Frankenmuth Auto Fest Weekend

Orange Mercury Cougar

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. – Road-trip warriors familiar with driving in The Mitten State – or even billboard spotters who travel up and down I-75’s Midwest corridor – have likely either been to or have seen the signs for Frankenmuth, a Bavarian-themed little community in “The Thumb” area of Michigan. It’s 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 tourist town is known for its yearly Frankenmuth Auto Fest, which happens the weekend following Labor Day.Gray First generation Mustang

Held on the grounds of Heritage Park, the Frankenmuth Auto Fest draws more than 2,000 unique vehicles of all makes and models each year. If classics and pre-1988 rides are your thing, then you’ll opt for being there on either Friday or Saturday. If you’re more into the modern stuff, the show field is opened up to all vehicles from the 2023 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.White mustang Cobra II

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.Red First generation ford Mustang

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 left home at 6:30 Saturday morning to attend the 40th annual Frankenmuth Auto Fest. I was there from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and thought about staying even longer. I did my best to see the over 2,500 vehicles and walked some 7 miles doing it. I came home with over 550 images on my camera!White Ford Convertible

“After the Woodward Dream Cruise, this is my favorite one-day car show. It takes approximately 540 volunteers to make the show run. That includes groups such as the Lions Club, VFW, Rotary Club, and local schools and churches. They have donated nearly $2 million to numerous charities over the last dozen years. Participants come from all over – Canada (again a huge turnout since border travel restrictions were simplified), Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, plus the Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan. Just be prepared to walk!”Blue First generation Mustang

We sifted through all of Cook’s photos and selected some of the more notable Fords that were on display there so that we could share our favorites with you in the gallery below:Blue first generation mustang with large engine


Yellow GT500 MustangBlue F100 insideBlue first generation MustangBlue Ford ConvertibleFirst generation MustangFirst generation mustang in blackBlue Ford MaverickBlue First generation Ford BroncoFord GT with Gulf paint schemeOrange Ford pickupOrange first generation Ford BroncoStarsky and Hutch FordFORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY BILL COOK