They drove from all over California, from Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico, and one from as far away as Houston, Texas! MINI Coopers in every color and variant, along with their fanatical owners, came to Southwest MINI Fest to meet other like-minded enthusiasts of the little car with British heritage.
The four-day affair was hosted this year by the Southern California MINI Maniacs (SCMM) and headquartered at the Crowne Plaza resort in San Diego. The event included everything one would expect at a MINI convention: A car show, rally, treasure hunt, goodie bags, raffle prizes, and awards banquet, as well as food, drinks, and plenty of camaraderie. From the Classic Mini to all three generations of the new BMW version, a full spectrum of the MINI brand was represented at the gathering.
“We were honored and excited to host this year’s Southwest MINI Fest,” says SCMM President Michael Garcia. “This event definitely ranks up there among the biggest events that our club has ever organized. It would not have been possible without the amazing effort put forth by our event volunteers and the generous support from sponsors.”
Attendees received a goodie bag at check-in that included the official event logo sticker, Adam’s Polishes Detail Spray, a microfiber towel, a Southwest MINI Fest branded Swiss Army-type pocket knife, a customized Hot Wheels Mini Cooper adorned with a Southwest MINI Fest roof graphic, the full-color event program, and other event-related items and information.
“I was completely blown away by all of the fun the organizers had planned for us participants,” said SCMM member Nina Nordstrom. “Knowing already that MINI peeps are some of the best people on the planet, I walked away learning more about the various MINI makes and models, developing a list of how I want to further personalize my MINI Cooper S, and even made treasured new friends. It was an unbelievably huge surprise to have won the Gen2 Judges Choice award for my ‘Mitze’ …it nearly brought me to tears with happiness. The memories I was blessed with during Southwest MINI Fest will stay with me for a lifetime.”
Some of the activities included a car show at the Deerpark Winery, a Treasure Hunt Rally, picnic lunch at Menghini Winery, scenic runs through the San Diego back country, a night out in Old Town San Diego, parties in the Wolfman’s Lair, and an awards banquet at Dave & Busters.
Dan Skorcz, who was club president in 2016, when it was announced that SCMM would host the 2018 MINI Fest, volunteered to be the lead organizer and championed the planning efforts. He also assembled a committee of talented and dedicated volunteers to help pull it all together, which was no small feat.
“Southwest MINI Fest is now over. I’m happy that everyone really enjoyed the event. We had a total of 88 cars registered from five different states,” says Skorcz, who attributed the event’s success to the team of volunteers that spent months planning every detail.
“The work put out by Joanie and Craig Berkwitz was extraordinary. From donating and finishing the car show trophies, to organizing registration, helping with the Hot Wheels souvenirs, and running the awards portion of the banquet, their contribution to the event was a key element to the event’s success,” says Skorcz. “We couldn’t have done it without them. We also had much help from Andy Russell, Jim Everett, Memo Santoyo, Debbie Jones, Nancy Homer, Michael Garcia, Steve Yellon, Mike Pinson, Jim Wellington, and others.”
Thanks also go out to the vendors who donated generously in support of the event. The beautiful eight-page, full-color event programs were printed and donated by SLB Printing, Inc. in Los Angeles; event stickers were donated by Stuck On Minis; goodie bags, lanyards, and detail spray were all donated by Adam’s Polishes; refreshments in the Wolfman’s Lair provided by Motoring Magic of Thousand Oaks; and raffle prizes were donated by M7 Speed, MINI of San Diego, MINI of Escondido, minicoopermounts.com, and Cravenspeed.
Southwest MINI Fest was originally created by Arizona residents and MINI enthusiasts Jerry Arias and Schyler Wadolny, and held biannually on alternating years of A Mini Vacation In Vegas (AMVIV).
“The first two events were held in Arizona, so we’re excited to see it come to Southern California in 2018,” said Wadolny in a 2016 interview for SCMM News. “Our hope is to keep the event moving to different states throughout the Southwest. Southern California has so much to offer in the way of entertainment, twisty roads, and available lodging, it’s a perfect location and we know SCMM’s track record of putting on great events.”
“The intent of the event’s creator was to move the event around to other parts of the Southwest. So watch for news of Southwest MINI Fest 2020,” says Skorcz. “It’ll be somewhere else and it’ll be fun.”
Phew! What a fantastic four days! We pulled it off!
It was with some trepidation on my part that I sat in on the first planning stages of Southwest MINIfest 2018, but with Dan Skorcz’s enthusiastic guidance, the invaluable expertise of Joanie and Craig Berkwitz, and the help of everyone on the planning committee, SCMM can be proud of hosting this wonderful event.
I’d like to thank everyone who helped bring Southwest MINIfest 2018 to life; you were all essential to its success. More thanks are due to those who helped out during the event. I’d also like to thank all who showed up, whose attendance made the event memorable and the success it was.
Now, I can get back to focusing on regular club activities. Let’s motor!
Michael Garcia, SCMM President