My first and only visit to Toronto was when I was eight years old. Like any tourist vacationing in another country with their family, we did things like visit Niagara Falls, check out the Hockey Hall of Fame, and eat donuts at Tim Horton's. Fast forward some-20 years later and I'm finally presented with an opportunity to take a long overdue trip back to T-Dot for ImportFest, a show that's been boasted as Canada's "biggest and baddest car show"—a very strong claim, right? I definitely had my reservations, however the moment I stepped into the Metro Toronto Centre last weekend, what I discovered was one of the most exciting car shows I've been to in the last 10 years. Yes, ImportFest lived up to the hype!
Open from 11AM to 11PM, ImportFest was the longest show I've ever attended. 12 hours? Are you kidding me?! But no, the staff at ImportFest knew what they were doing with 16 years of experience under their belt and a constant flow of fans coming in from morning to night. I was honestly most surprised by how busy the foot traffic was. At its busiest time, it felt like a mini-SEMA, while at its slowest, it still felt like a decent crowd similar to some very successful shows I know on the West Coast.
How could this be? My semi-educated guess is that there are only a couple of events a year in Canada. And because the winters are miserable, there are only a few months during the summer to make something special happen. ImportFest has found the right formula, as every enthusiast with an interest in cool cars made their way to the heart of Toronto. In '15, the attendance tipped the scales at 20,000 people. According to their staff, I'm told this year was even bigger!
There were some particular sponsors that I gotta tip my hat to; for example, the OEM/dealer representation by Acura and Nissan (you wouldn't normally see such support in the States for an enthusiast show). Also, Vossen Wheels came out strong with some very sick cars and the debut of a Skipper-kitted GT-R. Lastly, can't forget the homies at Nextmod. Their lineup of JDM-themed cars took up nearly a third of the show!
Once the 12th hour of the show expired, I walked back to my hotel and thought to myself how ImportFest exceeded my expectations. The spirit was high, the majority of the cars were very well put together, and any Canadian who shares a passion for tuner cars came out to support their country's biggest and baddest show.
Special thanks goes out to Basit Mirza and the rest of the ImportFest crew, and Josh Chow of Drive Marketing Group. Oh, and also thank you to Cabana Pool Bar—that was one wild party!