Every year, Panama City Beach, Florida, welcomes to its beaches what seems to be an endless stream of spring breakers from all over the country. Take this already volatile mix of party people and beach bums and throw in some die-hard mini-truckers for extra spice and what you have is the ingredients for Spring Fling 2002. This show, hosted by Vital Signs Street Designs, has grown by leaps and bounds during the years and shows no sign of losing its momentum. With such a flavorful mix of mad minis, high-quality vendors, nutty club competitions, and the always-zesty bikini contest, this show is everything a custom truck enthusiast could dream about.
The show began on Friday evening with the gates to the park opening for early weekend registration. Throughout the years, Vital Signs has virtually perfected the art of early registration by allowing this day-before-type of signing up and also by accepting early registration via its Web site. With this formula, it didn't take long for the attendance roster to start climbing as participants began to roll in almost immediately. This early start also allowed the many vendors on hand to get their booths set up and prepare for the thousands of show-goers that were going to walk through the gates during the course of the weekend.
Saturday began with a bang as a seemingly endless line of ultra-clean customs began to cruise into the grounds, managing to almost bring traffic on the four-lane main road to a stand still. The Vital Sign's crew sprung into action immediately, making sure that the stream of trick rides moved steadily through the gates and to their parking spot inside the grounds. As the show area began to swell with participants, the smell of cleaning products floated into the air as everyone started putting the final touches on their vehicles in preparation for the judges. This year's show brought out some of the highest-quality minis to date, and this really helped to get everyone's spirit in tune for the upcoming summer show season, which was just around the corner. Fresh ideas could be seen on almost every vehicle, showing that a hard-core mini-trucker never takes a break during the winter months. Many even finished up their projects while at the show by purchasing last-minute custom parts from some of the vendors located on the grounds.
Even with all of the activity going on in the show area, there was still plenty to be seen (and heard) at the audio competition near the back of the field. The participants kept the competition heavy as some of the sweetest sound systems from all over the Southeast came to try and take home bragging rights for the loudest and cleanest audio setup.
With a lot of events, everything seems to start winding down as the sun begins to set, but this is not the case at Spring Fling. This is when everyone begins to get ready for the ever-popular neon glow-off competition. This is truly one of the more visually stunning activities of the weekend (except for maybe the bikini contest), and it always seems to draw a crowd.
As Sunday rolled around and everyone filed in for a new day, Vital Signs got the day's activities underway. Some of the more unique activities were the club games, which consisted of an airbag toss, a frozen T-shirt contest, and a human wheelbarrow race. After the games were over and everyone had a chance to take a breather, the air-hop competition began. A number of daring mini-truckers pulled their rides into the contest arena and showed what a little imagination and a lot of air could make a truck do.
Next in line for the day's activities was the much anticipated bikini contest. This has become a Fling favorite and always seems to draw a bigger crowd than any of the other contests. Once you have seen it, you can pretty much figure out why. Lovely ladies from all over took their turn on the stage to impress the judges so they could walk away with the cash prize (and maybe even their photo in a magazine). One contestant even walked away with a split pair of shorts after attempting what turned out to be the wrong dance move. She deserves credit for continuing her turn, though. That's bravery.
As the afternoon came to a close, and some wicked fog started to roll in, the trophy ceremony began. As always, Vital Signs spared no expense when it came to delivering some of the coolest trophies to those who earned the right to take one home. Even luckier were the Best of Show winners, whose all-glass trophies were the envy of the show field. Even though everyone was not able to walk away with a trophy, it wasn't hard to tell that everyone had a great time, and many were already commenting that they would definitely be returning next year. If you think you would like to attend next year or would just be interested in visiting a cool club Web site, check out www.vitalsigns.org and see what makes this show so great.