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Autofest: Good Food, Fast Cars... What More Do You Need?

By Emilie Howlett
On March 30, 2012

UH Maui College held its first ever Autofest on Saturday, March 24. The sprawling Great Lawn in the heart of campus was transformed into an eccentric car lot, bustling with over 140 automobiles, local food wagons, and live entertainment provided by some of UHMC's most talented students. The purpose of the event was to spotlight the UHMC Auto Technology Program.

"The event is trying to promote the program and show what we do," said Automotive Technology student Cole Fernandez. "It showcases what we do and the support that we get from the community." The program is certainly promising-most UHMC Automotive students will "either get a career or a job [in the industry]", continued Fernandez.

Thomas Hussey, head of UHMC's Automotive Technology Program, spearheaded the event and was responsible for recruiting all the impressive vehicles that were on display.

"I think it's exciting," said Hussey, "We have bikes, go-karts, classic cars, race cars. We even got some of the dealerships to come out. This was an event [the UHMC community] really wanted to spend the time on. "

The Autofest was the realization of a dream that has been a year in the making.

"The event was scheduled to happen last year, but didn't," said UHMC Student Government member Palika Bell-Cockett, "I'm glad [it's] happening. There's good turnout and I hope it's something we can do next year and in the future."

Aside from the dazzling cars lining the lawn, there was no shortage of food at the event. Local food trucks from all over the island were in attendance to cater to the needs of the hungry auto-enthusiasts. The lineup included Pulehu Pizza, Tommy Lau Hee's Chicken Hekka, Kona Ice, Donna's Dogs, Da Puerto Rican Food Truck, and Cian's BBQ.

While the options all seemed delicious, this reporter only has so much room in her belly. I was drawn in by the smells emanating from Da Puerto Rican truck, so I ordered their Cuban sandwich (which included rice and a salad). While chowing down, I spoke with the Da Puerto Rican Food Truck owner Jose Antonmattei, who also showed great enthusiasm for the event.

"I'm excited because I think it's the start of the food truck trend on Maui," said Antonmattei, "I want it to be like Portland (food truck capital of the U.S.) over here!"

The convenience and casualness of the food from food wagons is catching the interest of Maui residents who crave grinds that are easy, wallet-friendly and authentic. "This is historic-it's going to kick off a whole [food wagon] food craze over here!" said enthused Antonmattei. "Also, put in there that I love my crew!"

My Cuban sandwich was so good, I love them too.

While this was the first Autofest to grace UHMC's pristine lawns (and rough it up a bit, no doubt), the event was well attended and well-put on. Next year, I encourage car aficionados to go and see the incredible array of cars the Autofest has to offer; and for everyone else, go for the food!

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