By Heather Regula, Correspondent
The Volkswagen bus, the first minivan, promises a slow ride to anywhere and makes the nomadic lifestyle appealing. Once known as a vehicle of choice for hippies, it is still an icon capable of carrying a family and a lifetime of memories. The bus is a symbol of freedom, and the vehicle manages to build a family out of the community of owners.
Oakmont Park in Morgan’s Point was the venue for the annual Texas Bus Fest. Seventy-seven buses and approximately 150 people attended the weekend gathering. Participants paid a $30 camp fee, and custom tee shirts were on sale for $5. The bus that traveled the furthest came from Corpus Christi, and the oldest vehicle in attendance was a 1959 bus belonging to Greg Silkerson, of Elgin. Anymore raised, above cost of the event, is donated annually to the Morgan’s Point Police Department. This year, the group will be donating $4,600. Shirley Clark, of Weatherford, was the event organizer.
“The City of Morgan’s Point is amazing. They donate the space for us to use each year. A few years ago they built us a shower trailer, and that has been convenient for us to use. They loaned us two generators for the weekend. We are so grateful for everything that they do to support us,” explained Clark. “Paul Smith, of Morgan’s Point, was the original host for this annual event. For about nine years, he hosted this as ‘Transporters at the Point.’ The name changed when I took it over.”
Saturday morning was a campsite delight as campers gathered together for the Parrott Flentge Memorial Breakfast.
“We gathered together for breakfast, to share a meal and remember members of our bus family who are no longer with us,” said Clark.
Ashley Johnson, of Fort Worth, met her boyfriend, Patrick, at the Texas Bus Fest five years ago.
“The Bus Fest is about friendship and bonding. This is one event that we just have to go to each year. Patrick and I love coming down here and seeing our friends,” remarked Johnson. “The VW community is the nicest, kindest, and most helpful group of people you’ll ever meet.”
Phyllis Montoya, of Austin, brought her 1969 custom painted bus to the Texas Bus Fest.
“I’ve been coming to the Bus Fest for years, but this is only the second year I’ve brought my bus. When I first got my bus, I knew I wanted it painted,” stated Montoya. “People suggested that I get it shrink-wrapped, but I knew that wasn’t the effect I was going for. I found an art student, named Rachel English in Austin, and she painted this mermaid scene for me. It ended up being exactly what I wanted! The VW bus is an incredible vehicle – I love being able to go anywhere!”
Another van that had a more straightforward custom paint job belonged to David Garrett. Garrett owns Spokes Bicycles and Services in Burleson, and he converted his 1971 van into a camper and had his business name painted in a vintage way on the side.
“Half the adventure with these buses is getting there. It’s never a fast trip. I love the destination aspect of it too – just arriving somewhere and relaxing is an amazing feeling,” said Garrett. “I’ve restored about 50 vans over the years, and I usually keep them for a few years at a time. This is the first bus I’ve used to camp out in.”
One of the highlights of the weekend was the highly coveted valve cover races. A valve cover is a piece of the motor and valve cover racing, similar to pinewood derby, allows participants to decorate their valve cover racers. The race offers friendly competition and family bonding. The valve cover racers can be up to ten inches wide, ten inches tall, and weigh up to eight pounds. The wheels can’t be more than six inches.
A best-dressed dog contest and Top Ten People’s Choice bus awards rounded out the Texas Bus Fest activities on Sunday. These people have formed a tight-knit community based on a shared love of VW buses and the open road. The Texas Bus Fest is an annual tradition that will likely continue for many years to come.