International Mini Meetings are ‘must do’ on every Miniacs list. When I heard the 2014 IMM was to be held in Kent, England, I knew I had to make it as I’d never been to one. Due to work commitments and the fact I’m not a keen camper, I booked to attend just on the Sunday which would be celebrating Mini being 55 years old.
I knew plenty of people who were attending the whole event and kept up to date with their antics via Facebook. I became a little worried about the queues that they posted about and feared that Sunday could be extremely busy as it was advertised as one of the main days and the only day in which you could attend for the day.
When Sunday arrived, I met up with a number of the Surrey New MINI gang and convoyed to the show-ground. On our way in, there wasn’t a queue at all which was great news. However, when I spoke to a marshal and said I was with Surrey New MINI (the majority of whom were in front of me) he directed me to the Mini only parking outside the show rather than saying to follow the group. Thankfully, Keith was behind me in the line and managed to speak to another marshal who corrected the one I spoke to. Of course, I don’t need to tell you that me and Stripes just ignored the marshal I spoke with anyway. Stripes and I don’t park in Mini only, we want to be out on display as part of the show!
Once we were all directed into the club display area I become disappointed with our location. Right next to the toilets and almost the furthest away from the show and foot traffic. When I walked around the club display area, I noticed large gaps and the fact we were the only modern MINI’s there. Because we were in the corner, by the toilets, it almost felt like the modern MINIs were just pushed over there in an area no one else wanted. I say this as it is a very classic oriented event and there was plenty of room for us to display elsewhere.
Despite the unpleasant stand location, I set about cleaning Stripes as I can never just park up and walk off. She has to look as good as she can. After slaving away on her for half an hour or so, I made my way towards the traders area and spotted the fantastic MINI UK stand.
I was amazed at their display of classic Minis amongst the modern giving everyone a subtle history lesson as did the timeline behind the cars. There were a couple of freebies to give out which is always a bonus and gets everyone talking. Something I was unsure of was why they weren’t selling any of the merchandise. They had some on display but it wasn’t until afterwards, I found out they were not actually selling any. Slightly odd I feel as they would have made a fortune there!
They also had an F56 on a plinth which will be going on display at the BMW Museum. This F56 was covered in Mini shaped stickers which those who attended the show were invited to write on and stick onto the Mini.
Of course, with this Mini going on display, a little bit of advertising couldn’t be missed now could it!
Sat alongside the MINI UK stand was the local MINI Dealership; Arden Maidstone, who were giving test drives in a number of F56′s and R60′s. As long as people had their license, they could go out with one of the team for a 20 minute drive. Wonderful idea and I’m so pleased they got involved as it really added to the event and I’m sure they’ve gained some interest from doing so. Well done to the Arden MINI team and in particularly, to Charlotte who spoke to me while I was getting some photo’s and doing some product research. And my dealership say I don’t work on my days off! She spoke to me about working at MINI and even gave me a few pointers which was fully appreciated.
After spending too much time at the MINI UK stand, I set about getting some photo’s but to my utter disappointment, I couldn’t photograph over 3/4 of those that attended the show as they were in the zoned off camping area. Although I had my Mini Madnesss press gear on and begged like a puppy, I couldn’t get in and photograph any in the camping area because I didn’t have a wristband.
There were LOADS of minis out there that I’ve never seen before and if am honest, that was the whole point of me attending the show; to see minis I’ve never seen. If I had of known this before, it might have made me think twice about attending. I know it may have been a bit of a nightmare to organise and I acknowledge the amount of organisation and effort that went into the event, I can’t help but feel that perhaps those minis in the camping area should have been allowed to move and park out on display somewhere for the Sunday.
Something else that slightly frustrated me was the fact I couldn’t head out to the Mini parking to take photo’s of those either, for reasons I am unsure of. I’ve attended other shows and have been allowed to get out to see those in Mini only parking. Shows such as Brands Hatch Mini Festival and Beaulieu make Minis in the parking area just as much a part of the show. Even at the Big MINI Show last year, I was allowed out into the parking area to grab a few shots of the MINIs out there! Surely, if you had your ticket on you or the marshals had a hand stamp, you could have been allowed to take a gander at those if you wished?
The Minis that I had access to as a Sunday only visitor, I’ve seen before. Not that there were many of them, as they are local clubs just up for the day as well or were scattered amongst the large traders area or hidden away for people to stumble upon as they wondered around. For example, the Mini 55 area that also housed the Show and Shine, I didn’t find until later afternoon and almost just stumbled upon it when wandering about.
What made me extremely happy about the day was the large traders area and I was super impressed with what was on offer. I’ve never seen a traders area like this. It may sound silly but I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat after picking up some kick plates for Stripes from Idle Gear which I have enquired about, numerous times at many many shows before.
I also picked up little models of both of my Minis; Stripes and WinnieP and both in stunning boxes as well. Such a kid.
A big shoutout has to go to the guys at Magnetagz; Connor and Steve who are such diamonds. www.magnetagz.com. I met these two at the Big MINI Show last year and was extremely pleased to see them here and for them to both recognise me as well. After standing around and catching up with them, I purchased their brand new torches that sit on the cigarette light holder which is ideal for my Mum as she is a carer and needs to use a torch often. What makes these guys fantastic is how they will go the extra mile which was clearly seen when Steve told me on my second visit back that Connor had gone off looking for me as he didn’t remember giving me the torches.
At the end of the day, while I was talking it through with Keith and my Mum; Sheila, I mentioned how I almost felt like I was intruding on the event for the day and that there wasn’t that much of a show on the Sunday but more of a continuation for those who stayed the whole weekend. I praised the trade area as that was the best I’ve seen and I spent ages walking round everything and the variety was great.
Like all of my articles, I have to mention a few people that I met throughout the day especially new people. Ian West spotted me taking photos of his Clubman Estate. Here are a couple of shots of his wonderful Mini.
Finally, I met with Collin Peterson. I’ve photographed his Minis so many times before and spoken to him online but never seen him. I was delighted to see him near to Stripes on one of my ventures back and it was fantastic to finally meet in person. We spoke for a while about Minis and shows and I told him how I couldn’t wait to be on stand with the Mersey Mini Club and see everyone again.
And now, before I finish this long waffle, I have a confession. I did manage to get into the camping area in the end. But it was only with the help of Harry Harrison who asked me in advance if I could get some pictures of his Mini. I messaged him and told him how I couldn’t enter the camping area where his Mini was located and so he rushed to find me and see if he could get me in. We spoke to a lovely lady on one of the gates who gave me access for 5 minutes so that I could snap some photo’s for him. Massive thank you to both of them for doing so!
Check out Sammieee’s gallery of photos here.
Check out Keith’s gallery of photos here.
Mini Madness is a product of SammieeePhotography and Joe Steel Art and Photography. We bring Mini imaging from a range of Mini and classic car events.