Ten years, that’s how long Wekfest has been around. To some of you who may not know about the history of the brand, it all started in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where most of us within Wekfest originates from. For our San Jose event this year, it was especially important as we would celebrate our decade long tour on home soil.
In 2008, the car scene in the Bay Area was lacking. By that I mean there were less than a handful of organized events. If there was a gathering, it lacked purpose. In my eyes, the camaraderie between enthusiasts that make up the car community was less than encouraging. This is when the idea of Wekfest struck me. Why can’t we, as a group of automotive devotees, make an event truly our own?
Utilizing our very own experiences, we took Wekfest into a product which was designed to heighten the status quo. I am confident to say that we were one of, if not, the first car show within our community to introduce the screening process for exhibitors. It wasn’t a receptive idea at first. The idea of saying that your car might not be good enough to be a part of our event was discouraging to some. However, our approach was to encourage a showcase to where we can send a positive message: Build your car with purpose, and build it with functionality and authenticity in mind. Fast forward to present day, the screening process is the foundation of a quality event experience. Saying no sometimes is the best thing to do.
From 2008 to 2010, we kept our event in Japantown, San Francisco. In a dimly lit, underground garage, we would pack in 400 of the best import, european, and domestic custom cars from California. The movement was a success, and soon, we have outgrown our venue, which led us to the infamous Fort Mason years.
For another two years, we kept the event in Fort Mason, which is one of the most scenic sites in San Francisco one can find to host any event. With the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, we filled the Fort Mason piers at its capacity. As much as we love Fort Mason, the venue could not accommodate our growing expansion. We wanted to be considerate of everyone who supported Wekfest, and accommodation was at the top of our priority list, a better experience was needed in order for us to sustain this gathering we have created moving forward. This is when we found a permanent home in San Jose Convention Center.
During our transition into San Jose, we also introduced events in Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu and Los Angeles. Eventually, the tour would include other major metropolitan cites of Seattle, Atlanta, West Palm Beach, Houston, New York and internationally in Japan.
One may ask, how will we sustain our cause for the next ten years to come? I think for me it’s more about keeping a tradition alive. Pay attention to trends but not buying into everything and anything that’s popular. This is also why we have never used the word “stance” in anything that we do, because we believe that the context of the word is often misrepresented. Moreover, our ultimate goal is to educate the end user. Provide those who are willing to listen with viable content, and feature car builders and businesses who believe in doing the right thing.
I always tell people this, Wekfest will never have unnecessary theatrics. There are no dance contests, or music blaring from every car speaker you can find. We let the cars do the talking, with the exhibitors being the centerpiece of it all. This is a place where we highlight and feature the people, and it’s always going to be about the people, and the individual stories to which each one will be unique to the other. Will Wekfest be around for another decade? I can’t give you a definite answer, but I will say that we will always stick to our principles until the wheels fall off.