It’s 1964 all over again.
It was February of that year, 55 years ago, when The Beatles first played “The Ed Sullivan Show,” sparking “Beatlemania” and the “British Invasion” of music, which also included the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Who.
This weekend, Stowe will see a different sort of “British Invasion” — a three-day event that draws enthusiasts of British cars and lifestyle from all around the world.
Now in its 29th year, the car show is the largest of its sort in the United States, drawing more than 600 British automobiles from around the United States and Canada, and bringing together Anglophiles to enjoy their shared love of cars and culture.
The invasion is usually held on the third week in September. This year, the event has been moved up to the second weekend.
“It brings a lot of people into town,” said event coordinator Michael Gaetano, who is also the proud owner of a 1947 Bentley.
While the event is centered on the Stowe Events Field, revelers will kick things off with a block party Friday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Main Street, which will be closed to through traffic. The street will be lined with Aston Martins, Jaguars, Minis — there are rumors of a McLaren F1 — and there will be plenty of food and live music.
Saturday is the competition day at the events field, with no fewer than 65 categories. Numerous vendors will sell an array of British items, from auto parts to antique furniture. There’s also a “car corral” for visitors looking to buy or sell a vehicle.
“Someone can come to the show without a car and go home with one,” Gaetano said.
Visitors are encouraged to dress in costumes that reflect British history and culture, and will be judged and awarded prizes by “incognito” judges throughout the weekend.
“You could be a British rock star or a British bobby. You name it,” Gaetano said.
In keeping with the fashion theme, a woman dressed as Queen Elizabeth II will judge a fascinator hat competition (think big, fancy hats worn by ladies at the Kentucky Derby).
While the main competition is on Saturday, there is plenty to do on Sunday, including a “Competition of Colors” event, which breaks down competitors in categories based on color — red, white, blue, British racing green, black, two-tone and rainbow.
In addition, there will be the “Tailgate Picnic Competition,” in which competitors turn their automobiles into mobile sideboards, offering a variety of tasty British-themed treats.
And on Sunday morning, Gaetano will lead a convoy of British autos through Smugglers’ Notch.
“We’ve been doing it for 27 years, and hopefully my ’47 Bentley will make it again this year,” he said.
Throughout the weekend, visitors will enjoy music from the other kind of British Invasion, and there will be fundraising efforts by representatives from the Lamoille County chapter of Habitat for Humanity — which will hold a 50-50 raffle and art auction — and the American Cancer Society.
A two-day admission pass to the event is $15. Leave your dogs at home. Information: britishinvasion.com.