In Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope, audiences were introduced to this small cast of characters fighting unambiguously for good against a well-armed and militaristic empire with a planet-killing space station. The movie ends with good triumphing over evil after overcoming some difficult, but not insurmountable, odds, but the universe in which it took place doesn’t feel bigger, smaller, or any different than it did at the beginning of the movie. It isn’t until The Empire Strikes Back that audiences see the scope of not just the universe in which their new favorite band of Rebels fight against tyranny, but the true size of the Empire’s forces. This realization is an equally childhood-defining moment as the first self-contained story in Hope. Last year’s Euro District introduced me to this world of Volkswagen enthusiasm in earnest, but this year’s show had that universe-expanding effect on me that has cemented my love for this scene just as Empire did with Star Wars. Welcome to Tuned In Weekly, this is our coverage of the final 2021 season show, Euro District 6 hosted by Eurotrash Apparel in Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Friday morning, we departed from ECS for the drive to Jeffersonville. Euro District takes place in the adjacent lot to the hotel where everyone stays, so it’s a non-stop event that moves to a few different lots in the same city block for a weekend. It truly is a 48-hour affair in that the attendees are consistently all in one place together simply enjoying each other’s cars and company. When we arrived, the festivities were already well underway. 

The hotel parking lot had been reserved for our event, which meant this year’s Friday night lot party was exclusively for attendees. Last year was mostly event attendees in the front hotel lot, but there were plenty of regular hotel guests likely confused and possibly upset at the somewhat rowdy nature of the enthusiasts hanging out in a parking lot. This year, our private lot privileges meant we could pack in more visually appealing arrangements, double-park, and just generally have the freedom to do what we wanted. Naturally, that helped make the attendees more relaxed for what was an exceptional pre-show hangout. 

Our hosts, EuroTrash Apparel, set up their booth, busted out a massive BBQ grill and dished out some delicious food for everyone while we all meandered, chatted, and admired some of the cars that would populate the show the following morning. We enjoyed the late-night snacks and caught up with all our friends from past shows while the anticipation for the proper show grew substantially. From what we saw that night, we expected Euro District 2021 to be even more impressive than last year’s incredible turnout.

Saturday morning, our predictions came true. The local car wash was a flurry of activity as everyone who had driven down that evening or was just rolling into town for the show that day arrived and prepared their cars. We hurried through pre-show detailing, rushed back for our booth load-in, and were already floored by the number of cars rolling into the lot.

We set up our booth and watched as the venue packed full of breathtaking builds. Period-correct builds sporting that attention to detail for which the VW scene has become famous, modern takes on stance, off-road conversions, engine swaps of all sorts, and some truly wild creations that don’t fall into any category are what to expect at this show, and we certainly weren’t let down. The waterfront quickly became an unmatched collection of the Euro community’s best and brightest while we took it all in with front-row seats.

Among all these cars, how many connections we’ve made through our participation in these shows became apparent. As Dinah from Euro Trash, the event organizer, so aptly described, “it’s more like a family reunion than it is a car show.” Sure, there are awards, raffles, vendors, and all the other trappings of a car show, but that almost feels secondary. It’s a show unlike any other, as it isn’t some abstract event company running a venue that individuals populate separately; it’s a combined effort. Those in attendance, those of us partnered as vendors, and the event coordinators themselves are all tightly connected working together. This blurring of lines between staff and show-goers creates an atmosphere that is unique to and descriptive of what Euro District is. It’s this expansive family from across the country who collectively make this pop-up little town rather than just fill a lot with cars.

Euro District is somehow more than the sum of its parts in this way. Of course, there are the same components to any show, however, with Euro District, it’s incredibly common for someone to fall into several of those categories simultaneously. The people who attend Euro District aren’t just there to show off their car, they’re helping make the event happen. Many event attendees volunteer to direct traffic, help work booths, set up sound and music equipment, and more. Hardly anyone at Euro District isn’t involved in some way with physically putting the show together.

This is a true community, which I have seen the VW crowd demonstrate more than any other niche group. Like the band of Rebels who, at first seemed as nameless and faceless as the white-armored Storm Troopers, they become this lovable family. As far as the show is concerned, it is undeniably a blast, but it’s the people, the characters, that make it something much deeper than a parking lot full of cool cars.

Unfortunately, being so much fun, time passes too quickly. Almost as soon as we’d had the opportunity to take in the vastness of what there was to see at the show, it was time for the official event to conclude. We helped Dinah and her crew present the awards and raffle prizes, thanked everyone, and finally tore down our booth before heading for some well-deserved local pizza. 

When we returned to the hotel, we were greeted with tired smiles from the attendees who stayed for the evening. The lot was still full, but the bustle of excitement and energy from the previous night had been replaced with a contented exhaustion. While the official show had ended, the final hours of the evening are the epilogue to the weekend. Despite the relative quiet, the conversations and remaining Euro District family prove that the show itself is just a part of what Euro District is. It’s people who choose to be around each other not through a superficial shared interest but for genuine love for each other. It’s the circles of chairs between rows of our cars, it’s self-policing the lot at the end of the night for trash, the bittersweet hugs as we say goodbye until next year, and that glowing fullness you feel as you fall asleep knowing there is this hidden world into which you’ve been welcomed and found a home. 

At the end of Hope, you feel happiness through the conflict resolution and excitement from the spectacular experience that Star Wars offers. When Empire concludes, you are invested in the lives of the characters, you’ve seen them grow and now experience one of the heaviest endings in cinema. But you also know that the story is more than one movie, the universe will only grow as the story builds to its true climax. With Euro District, I feel a similar investment. New friends have become well-loved staples in what car enthusiasm is for me, the show has become a permanent date on my calendar. Just like Luke and Leia watching Lando and Chewie take off in the Falcon, the end of Euro District doesn’t conclude a one-time hit, it says ‘we’ll see you next year.’ The season, and Euro District, may be over, but it’s not the end of the story, it sets up the next adventure.

Thank you to Dinah, Brad, Pat, Josh, Donnie, Matt, the Scotts, Tyler, and everyone who makes Euro District so amazing. We can’t wait for 2022.