Simple Transport is simply fun: VW lovers gather in Hagerstown this weekend

August 23, 2012|By SUSAN FAIR | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • Jason Kauffman will take his 1966 Volkswagen bus to the Simple Transport show at Hagerstown Fairgrounds. The vintage bus once took him on an 8,500-mile trip and is still his daily driver. It was shown in a scene of 2009 feature film "Taking Woodstock."
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Hagerstown residents could glimpse a fun sight this week when caravans of old-school Volkswagens roll into town. 

The VWs will be on their way to Simple Transport 5, Hagerstown's own air-cooled Volkswagen and classic BMX show, which will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Fairgrounds Park.

Enthusiasts often load up their vintage VWs and get together in groups to drive to the event, where they spend the day showing off their vehicles, admiring other VWs, socializing and soaking up Simple Transport's festive atmosphere.

So what is an air-cooled Volkswagen? 

"It's basically the (VW) Beetles and buses — all the stuff produced from the '50s through the '80s," explained Brian Caron, who co-founded the event with fellow enthusiast Matt Nutter. "Mostly cars with the engines in the back and no radiator." 

In keeping with the theme of "Simple Transport" the show will also feature classic BMX bicycles and vintage motorcycles.

There will also be food vendors, a VW tattoo contest, raffles, a motorcycle and bicycle swap meet and offerings from new parts vendors. There will also be an open house at the adjoining Hagerstown BMX track from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

Attendees can expect to see about 150 Volkwagens at Simple Transport 5, Caron said. Proceeds from the event go to support the Hagerstown BMX track.

Simple Transport got its start five years ago when Caron, who owns two VW buses and calls himself a "Volkswagen fanatic," decided it would be cool if Hagerstown had a local show like the ones he often had to travel many miles to attend. Since then, the yearly event has gained speed, even defying Mother Nature last year.

"It was on the day Hurricane Irene came to town," Caron recalled. "But we still had 400 to 500 people."

Planning the show is a lot of work, "as I find out every year," Caron said.

But in keeping with the friendly spirit of the event, he doesn't have to do it alone. Members of the Warwagens Car Club help out, as well as friends and numerous relatives, including Caron's sister, niece, nephews and parents — who are five-year Simple Transport veterans.

Caron said spectators don't have to own a Volkswagen to enjoy Simple Transport 5.

"It's for everyone, really," he said. "People like it because Volkswagens seem to inspire nostalgia. It's a way for people to re-live their youth. It's the same with bicycles. Everybody remembers getting their first bike."

While prizes such as People's Choice and Longest Distance will be awarded at Simple Transport, Caron said ultimately the show isn't about competition. 

"It's more about gathering with like-minded people with similar interests and enthusiasm," he said. "In fact, one of the rules we list is to 'Have fun and meet new people.'"

Jason Kauffman of Waynesboro, Pa., has attended every Simple Transport since its inception. 

"There's no better place to be," he said. "Everybody is like a close-knit family. You get to see a lot of the same people you meet at other shows." 

Kauffman, owner of a 1966 VW Westfalia Camper, brings his kids along to the show.

"It's for young and old," he said. "And it's a neat thing to have so many Volkswagens in one place, because there's really not a lot of them left out there, especially on the East Coast. And Volkswagens are kind of like a universal language. Whenever I drive mine, people wave and smile."

If you go ...

What: Simple Transport 5: Air-Cooled Volkswagen and Bicycle Show

When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25.

Where: Hagerstown Fairgrounds Park, off Cleveland Avenue, Hagerstown

Cost: $2 spectators, $10 per vehicle (including driver), $10 per vintage motorcycle (pre-1985), $3 per bicycle. $15 for swap space and used car sales. Free entry for all air-cooled commercial vehicles. Free for ages 12 and younger. 

Contact: Go to, email or call 240-675-7976.

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