A couple of weeks ago, I spent a very pleasant weekend in St. Ignace, a wonderful town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Once a year, this small quiet town between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron explodes with automobiles and automobile enthusiasts from all over the Midwest - and often from much farther away than that.
It's my time to re-energize my belief that the love affair with the automobile is alive and well.
This was the festival's 22nd year. Thousands of automobiles are put on display on the main street so 100,000 people can drive over the Mackinac Bridge to admire this once-a-year display.
And each year, there seems to be more and more interest by many divisions of the Big 3, which set up exhibits and talk to their most enthusiastic and loyal customers. It's a great opportunity to do a little grassroots research face-to-face with thousands of customers and prospects.
The automobile show at St. Ignace is by no means unique, except perhaps for its picturesque setting. There are hundreds of car shows throughout the country. Whether you're a fan of hot rods, custom cars, sports cars, classics or maybe even trucks, chances are that there is a show near your town displaying your favorite vehicles.
And that's the real point. A lot of folks still have favorite cars or trucks and favorite brands.
Anyone who is in the business of creating or marketing automobiles should visit one of these extraordinary events, not necessarily because you're a big fan of some type of car collecting, but simply to realize that millions of customers in the United States continue to feel some excitement and commitment to your products, or maybe to the other guys' products.
Many safety, emissions and fuel-economy regulations have been adopted in the last 25 years, but they don't seem to have lessened the excitement.
The automobile world is still building cars that people not only want to buy, but want to keep.
There are those who would have us all believe that the automobile has turned into nothing more than an appliance.
Well, spend a couple days at St. Ignace. It's a nice place for a vacation, but more important, you will get some firsthand knowledge about your cars and your customers.
It's worth the trip.