**9/15/17: While unofficial H2Oi activities may still be occurring, the official event has been cancelled until 2018, according to a statement on H2Oi’s website.
Ocean City and its surrounding regions have become quite the hub for car shows and events in recent years. In fact, new vehicle-friendly events seem to be popping up just about every year. One event that’s been gaining popularity has dubbed itself “The ‘laid back’ 2-day Volkswagen/Audi event”–H2O International, or H2Oi, takes place in Whaleyville, MD every year, only 20 minutes from Ocean City, and many participants and spectators have taken to venturing away from H2Oi headquarters and showing off their wheels all the way down Coastal Highway.
Traditionally, the event is the final weekend in September. Yes, that’s three days, but it’s likely the car fest will take full swing that Saturday and Sunday. If you’re a self-proclaimed grease monkey, mark your calendar and read on for tips that’ll help you get ready for this year’s festival.
What is H2Oi?
H2Oi stands for water-cooled import vehicles, and the 2-day Whaleyville event has a focus on modified Volkswagens and Audis.
Show car aficionados travel from all over the East Coast to meet like-minded vehicle enthusiasts and to view all the unique and modified cars on display.
What happens at the event?
Participants drive up and park their vehicles for all the world to see. These vehicles range from stock (no mods) to mild (minor modifications) to wild (major modifications–that means motor swap, dash swap, super charger, turbo, major body styling, major interior and major audio).
On the first day of the weekend, there’s live music and barbecue at the Fort Whaley campgrounds. H2Oi recommends that participants bring their “A game” on the first day, as that’s when judges are checking out the cars and deciding who gets to be “Top Dawg” and up for an award. Cash awards go to the winners of categories including Best of Show for Stock, Mild and Wild, Best Paint, Best Engine, Best Interior, Promoter’s Choice and Club Participation.
If you’re not a Top Dawg but still feeling the competitive spirit, there’s also a cornhole tournament where players can win prizes from event sponsors and tickets to potentially win a raffle car.
How can I prepare?
If you’re looking to spectate, you can buy tickets day-of at the gate. Or, if you have both knowledge and admiration of show cars and looking to be more than a spectator, you can apply on H2Oi’s website to be a judge.
Participants must register online as an individual or a club before the event. When the weekend arrives, participants are to pick up their dashboard receipts from will call and then be in place by 11 a.m. on Saturday.
Book your hotel ahead of time! H2Oi has preferred lodging listed on their website and since tourist season is coming to a close by late September, it’s not too difficult to find hotels with off-season rates. If you’re thinking about staying for longer than a weekend, this year’s Sunfest is the week before H2Oi, from September 21-24.
A quick reminder
With the ever-expanding vehicle shows and events that occur each year comes noise, traffic, litter and a general increase in vandalism and other illegal activities. Please be respectful of the town and all the beautiful regions that surround it so that these car shows can continue to take place.