Cool and old rides roll into Zephyrhills

This 1956 Lincoln Continental Premiere was an auction item at last year’s AutoFest at Festival Park in Zephyrhills. The four-day event features a collector car auction, swap meet and vintage auto exhibition racing.

MICHELE MILLER | Times (2011)

This 1956 Lincoln Continental Premiere was an auction item at last year’s AutoFest at Festival Park in Zephyrhills. The four-day event features a collector car auction, swap meet and vintage auto exhibition racing.

Looking to catch up with your first love?

Perhaps you're waxing nostalgic over that old beater your dad passed down to you all those years ago or maybe you're really serious about putting a bid in on that cool ride you always dreamed about — the toy you promised to get yourself after the kids were grown and your pockets got deep.

Dreamers and doers alike are welcome to mosey over to Festival Park this weekend for the annual Zephyrhills Fall AutoFest, a collector and classic car swap meet, car corral and auction that this year gives a fun nod to the 40th anniversary of American Graffiti.

Close to 1,000 old and very cool rides from all over the country will be rolling into town — muscle cars, street cars, race cars, sports cars, classic, exotic and antique cars along with some specialty trucks and motorcycles. About 400 of those are up for auction with others simply for show.

And there's a whole lot of other stuff going on for those who want to simply spend a day or camp out for the weekend.

"This a family-friendly event with entertainment and events that will appeal to the die-hard enthusiast and those who just want to look around," said Mike Garland, media spokesman of Carlisle Events, the host of AutoFest. "It's a real good opportunity to see some automotive history."

Zephyrhills Mayor Daniel Burgess will be on-site Saturday to declare "American Graffiti Day." Folks might also have the opportunity to rub elbows with a couple of celebrities — Cindy Williams (Lori in American Graffiti and Shirley Feeney in the 1970s sitcom Laverne and Shirley) and Candy Clark (Toad's girl Debbie in American Graffiti).

Bay area native and NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag racing hall of famer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, who is heralded as the father of drag racing, will be in the house along with racing legend Milo Coleman and his Ford Falcon drag car.

There will also be a military vehicle display. The Florida Highway Patrol will be on hand with its rollover demo machine to highlight safe driving techniques.

Those who go can also take a gander at an extra terrestrial vehicle, a custom-built creation of Mike Vetter of MTV Concept that was recently featured on the Discovery Channel along with some funky art cars by Laurence Gartel, known as the "Father of Digital Art."

Add to that vendors galore and a bevy of good eats — burgers and fries, southern specials, apple dumplings, funnel cakes and more.

Michele Miller can be reached at miller@tampabay.com

. If you go

Zephyrhills Fall AutoFest

When: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Festival Park, 2738 Gall Blvd., Zephyrhills

Cost: Adult admission: $8 Thursday; $10 Friday-Saturday; $5 Sunday; $30 for weekend pass. Children 12 and under are free.

For a full event listing and information on camping, lodging and more, visit

carlisleevents.com/carlisle-events/zephyrhills-fall.

Cool and old rides roll into Zephyrhills 11/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 7:30pm]

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