Shelbyfest will roll into downtown Jefferson City for the fourth straight year next weekend.
The annual festival for Ford Mustang fans and owners will take place Thursday through Saturday. Organizers expect about 20,000 spectators and hundreds of car owners to attend events.
Events begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, when drivers can participate in autocross at the Hyde Park Fire Training Facility. The festival will culminate Saturday with a car show throughout downtown.
Shelbyfest founder Kyle Caraway said the festival celebrates Ford, Mustang and Shelby gear-heads. Ford and Mustang owners of all makes, models and years are welcome to enter.
"There's a place for everybody," Caraway said.
Shelbyfest is celebrating its 12th year and fourth in Jefferson City, moving the festival to the Capital City in 2015 after outgrowing its original setting in Hermann from 2007-14.
Caraway expects about 700 car owners from around the country to attend the event. Overall attendance figures for all events should be 20,000-25,000 people, he said.
Two of the festival's signature events are country cruises Thursday and Friday through the Mid-Missouri countryside. Thursday's cruise spans 70 miles, departing from Walmart, 401 Supercenter Drive, at 4:10 p.m. and traveling through Taos, Wardsville, St. Thomas, Meta, Babbtown, Koelztown and Westphalia before returning to Jefferson City, organizer Dennis Even said. Friday's cruise leaves the Runge Nature Center, 330 Commerce Drive, at 4 p.m.
This year, Shelbyfest added two scenic drives Friday from Jefferson City to Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, where attendees will be able to visit the Budweiser Clydesdales and taste Budweiser beers.
After years of lobbying the company, Caraway convinced a small group of executives from Carroll Shelby International, which owns the Shelby performance technology Ford licenses for some of its Mustangs, to travel to Shelbyfest last year. The group was so enthralled with the festival they're traveling to Mid-Missouri again from the company's Las Vegas headquarters.
Owners of all cars and motorcycles are welcome 6-9:30 p.m. Friday to attend a cruise-in for hot-rod owners on West McCarty Street outside the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Live music and food vendors will be in a parking lot adjacent McCarty Street behind the hotel.
Festivities wrap up Saturday with a car show 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on High Street and a banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m. Ford or Mustang fans can enter the car show as late as Saturday morning, Caraway said.
The weekend will be filled with fun, Caraway said, but he hopes car owners also can get to know their cars better.
Autocross racing runs 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Hyde Park Fire Training Facility. The event requires drivers to quickly accelerate and decelerate as they steer through a short, tight course.
Driving instructors from racing tire manufacturer BF Goodrich will ride along with drivers as they race throughout the course. By going through the exercise, Caraway said, drivers will likely realize they don't know how to drive as well as they think they do.