AutumnFest – Kustom Karz & Kulture

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‘AutumnFest’ – the premiere ‘Kustom Karz & Kulture’ scene on the Mid North Coast returns to Taree Wingham Race Track to showcase a fantastic line-up of hot rods, big motors, bikes, customs and classics … the festival is parading an excellent line-up of live music by Rockabilly, Pyschobilly and Country Swing acts … there will also be vintage clothes markets, memorabilia, car culture products plus record, tattoo and foot stalls … 

Tell us how AutumnFest came to be and could you also enlighten us about the weekend’s activities … 

I have always loved the whole Kustom Kulture Scene, because it has so many great elements like the cars, art, pinups, tattoos and of course, the music. I love my Rockabilly and Alternative Music, including Country Rock, Swing and Pyschobilly. I must admit people who are involved in the scene are just some of the best people I have ever met. They live and breathe the lifestyle, which is just great.

This year, spectators will get to see 5 bands, 200 plus hotrods from all over the country, the tattoo show and low rider bikes. This year AutumnFest will also feature a Low Brow art show, with artists including David Lozeau from Southern California, Dale Habberfield from  Qld, Glenn ‘Glenno’ Smith from Sydney and Marcus Thorn of Tikibeats fame.

We also have DJ Brian from Sydney, who is familiar with all the dance styles, including Rock ’n’ Roll, Swing and Rockabilly. He will keep the dancers really happy, so pack those dancing shoes.

Rusty Pinto from WA will be backed by the incredible Pat Copocci trio. This guy’s voice is smooth, and the women just love him.

We are super excited that one of Australia’s biggest Country Rock acts coming off their 5 tour of Texas Chucks Wagon will be here.

For those who like their Pyschobilly, we have the one and only Captain Reckless and the Lost Souls attending, who come with their 6 piece band including big brass section.

We have really gone all out this year, and we’re bringing one of the biggest ‘revved up’ Rockabilly acts out of the USA, ‘The Chop Tops’ from Santa Cruz, California. These guys are not weekend warriors; they have played at some of the biggest festivals in the US, including Viva Las Vegas and the Texas Rockabilly Revival!

We are grinning from ear to ear that these guys will perform on the Saturday night after the pinup comp and will bring the house down, as it is their first time in Australia.

Kustom Kulture is a rapidly growing scene … what sort of things should you love to do if you want to immerse yourself in this culture?

Just come and be part of it! People are always welcoming; for instance, if you want to just come and enjoy the fashion, unique market stalls, music, dancing and low brow art.

Many of the car clubs work tirelessly, driving to shows to support other clubs and charity events, so that there is always somewhere to go and show off their wheels. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own a car or a bike or you’re not an artist or if you don’t have tattoos; there is something for everyone – including this year’s ‘Rug Rat’ run on the Saturday, which will raise funds for the Taree Children’s Ward at Manning Base Hospital. So, just get in your car and enjoy.

In a first for the town of Taree, we will have the markets open free to the public on the Saturday night, so you can shop under the lights!

What can the rev-heads expect to see and participate in at AutumnFest?

This year we have one the biggest Hollywood hot rodder icons from the movie American Graffiti, Paul Le Mat, who was John Milner, the 32 Yellow Ford Deuce Coupe Rodder. Paul will be accompanied by one of America’s biggest custom car builders, John D’Agostino.

A now Australian owned custom car built by John, called the ‘Marilyn’, is a 1953 Cadillac and was built as part of the trilogy commemorating Hollywood legends Clark Gable, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Munroe. Immortalised by Hot Wheels classic toys, the models have become collectables!

The Marilyn was purchased and shipped to Australia by the late Rene Rivkin, adding to his then extensive collection of motor cars.

There will be a seminar on the Sunday, so people can meet both John and Paul and hear their stories. This is a first for Australia. We are very excited and cannot wait for that part of the event.

We have also been able to attract some custom car industry specialists, including Mothers car products, Speedflow and the House of Kolor, who will be holding pin striping demonstrations, to name a few.

You’ve worked closely with Justin Hills (Hills & Co Customs) – a resident car builder in Taree who will be showcasing some of his incredible cars. Tell us about this …

Justin is one of those quiet achievers within the area. For instance, his ‘49 Buick aptly named ‘Art Deco’ achieved massive accolades at shows like Summernats, and once it hit the USA it was so well received, it was requested by shows all across the USA.

Justin now tours America many times a year as a special guest, and the car will most likely not return to Australia for some time yet.

There are many other Custom Car builders in our towns, like Elvis from Rodbods at Nabiac and of course, Graeme Brewer from Downtown Kustoms in Forster, whose engineering work is second to none. It is a great, great buzz to know that we have these kinds of talented people right here in our own backyards.

To the envy of every woman, artist Marcus Thorn will be creating a beautiful stiletto at the festival … 

Aaah yes … the wooden Tiki styled hand crafted stiletto. There have been so many entries this year for the Miss AutumnFest Pinup Comp, we had to limit entries to 12 lovely ladies; we had to change the time slot of the event to the Saturday night, so we could fit it in.

Marcus is one of the most highly respected Tiki/Hawaiian style carvers; his carvings are featured worldwide, including Hawaii, Japan and the USA. He has recently beeen featured in many magazines, such as Fuel, DeadBeat, Cruzin Mag. I hope people will come and meet him on the Sunday at the Low Brow Art Show.

I hear the official ‘Ed Hardy Chopper’ will be on display … this uniquely designed chopper was originally commissioned by Ed Hardy Australia and built by Snake Charmer Choppers, who are nationally known as one of the best custom bike builders … 

Yes, the Team at Snake Charmer Choppers are back again, but this year they are bringing to the area for the first time ever the official commissioned built Ed Hardy Chopper!

George and his team were asked to build the Chopper exclusively; it has travelled all over the world. When George said he could attend the show, we were thrilled, as this bike is a work of art. It will be on display Sunday due to George’s hectic schedule, so make sure you stop by and meet George and his team.

Entrants will be coming from near and far to participate in the coveted Pin-up Girl Competition… 

Not only will the winner receive the Hand Carved Tiki Stiletto by Marcus, but she will also be the face of the AutumnFest advertisements

They will compete in 3 rounds: swimwear/Tiki, lingerie and evening wear, so expect nothing but fierce competition, with nothing but elegance and style, style, style … oh, did I mention style!

Thanks Brett.

Interview by Karen Farrell.

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