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Photo Gallery | 24th annual Pasco Bug Jam sees record attendance

Dade City, Florida -- A record 530 Volkswagens of all types competed for top awards at the 24th annual Pasco Bug Jam on Nov. 11 that saluted VWs and veterans with the theme: “Red, White and Blue…This Bug’s For You.”

“The crowd was also huge -- an estimated 7,000 -- with people coming from throughout the country to pay tribute to the ‘People’s Car’ and the people who have served our country,” said Carol Jeffares Hedman, event coordinator.

The Veterans Day event featured skydivers dropping in with an American flag for the opening ceremony that also included a special presentation to the oldest veteran participating in show -- Francisco Fernandez, 84, of Casselberry, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars.

All veterans participating in the show were also called to the stage for a group photo and special gifts, as well as a three-volley gun salute by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a color guard presentation.

The entire day’s activities were dedicated to Corky Yager, 83, owner of Sunray Bugs in Dade City. Yager, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War, has been a part of the Bug Jam since its inception and is known throughout the world for his VW business.

Other people recognized at the Bug Jam included Jennifer Welch, of Ocala, as the Judges’ Pick Award. The engine of Welch’s 1973 purple Super Beetle was destroyed just days before the Bug Jam when her mechanic dropped a washer down the intake manifold. Donna Morse, of Lyndon, IL, also won for the person driving the furthest --- 1,230 miles in her 2000 VW GLS --- to participate in the show. And the Volks Family Car Club won for the Most Club Members Participating, with 16 members of the Orlando, area club showing off their VWs.

But the VWs were the real stars of the show, with the 1967 Microbus Deluxe belonging to Mark Pinkstaff, of Belleview, FL, taking home the Best of Show award. Other “best of” awards went to: Mike Beltran, of New Brockton, AL, 1967 Bug convertible, modified, best engine; Clay Poole, of Villa Rica, GA, 1956 Beetle, modified, best paint; Stewart Sewell, of Anderson, SC, 1956 Beetle, stock, best interior; and Steve Cramer, of Miami, FL, 1962 bus, modified, best display.

Trophies were also awarded to class winners in the 59 classes of competition for air- and water-cooled VWs.

The Bug Jam is organized by the non-profit Pasco County Fair Association Inc., a 501 (c) 3 organization and all proceeds go to non-profit organizations, including All Children’s Hospital that has received more than $264,000 since the Bug Jam was conceived 24 years ago. More than 2 tons of food has also been collected for Suncoast Harvest Food Bank.

The Bug Jam is also supported, in part, by the Pasco County Tourist Development Council. The Pasco TDC named the Bug Jam the Best Special Event of the Year in 2010. Other sponsors are: Reeves Import Motorcars; Hilltop Motors; Clubair Sportswear; The Tampa Tribune; hotVWs magazine; Foreign Policy; Covanta Pasco; Motorsports Tulsa, LLC; and McGee Tire.

Next year’s 25th annual Pasco Bug Jam will be held Sunday, Nov. 10, at the fairgrounds. For more information, visit the Web site: www.pascobugjam.com; email bugjam@pascocountyfair.com; or call the Pasco County Fair Office, (352) 567-6678.

Release and photos courtesy Pasco County Government.

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