Every year Carlisle Events in Carlisle, Pennsylvania brings car enthusiasts from across the country to swap cars, car parts, and car stories. The car shows and swap meets, which are held at the Carlisle Fairgrounds, are scheduled throughout the year. The events begin in the spring and continue into the fall. They have spring and fall collector car swap meets, as well as five specialty car events, a truck event, a bike event, and a performance and style event.
The Spring Carlisle Collector Car Swap Meet and Corral, which is historically the largest of the year, was held in April. The next Carlisle swap meet will be held in September, so mark your calendar. Here is what you can expect when you attend one of these events:
35th Spring Carlisle Collector Swap Meet and Corral
Carlisle’s spring swap meet and corral was held April 27 through May 1. Cars, cars, and more cars, along with over 7000 vendor booths, were spread over 82 acres of the Fairgrounds.
The Car Vendors
The vendors offered a wide variety of car-related merchandise. They had tools and equipment for car repairs, car photos and art, die cast cars, car memorabilia, such as old gas pumps and license plates, car care products, and after-market products to modernize classic cars. There were even true “project cars” for those interested in creating their own custom ride.
If you needed a light switch for a ’67 Nova, a brake line for a ’70 Cuda, or a taillight lens for a ’59 Galaxy 500, chances are you would have found it there. In the unlikely event you didn’t, you certainly would have enjoyed the hunt.
Over 100,000 attendees canvassed the booths for that special find. Some brought their own carts to haul the items they purchased during their treasure hunt. Others bought a cart at the swap meet.
Two days was not enough time for me to take in all the cars and vendor displays. So, don’t cut your time short.
The Car Corral
Approximately 1500 cars were on sale at this swap meet. The vast majority of the cars were domestic models, ranging from “every-day drivers” to “show quality.” The asking prices were prominently displayed, along with details of the vehicle’s background and features. The final day of the swap meet was Sunday, but by late Saturday there were a lot of open spaces and “Sold” signs in the car corral.
There are about a dozen permanent buildings on the grounds. Some are used for displaying the choice cars, and others house a variety of commercial vendors.
The main food court, which is centrally located, has plenty of outdoor picnic tables for customers. A roof over the eating area provides protection from the weather. There is a grandstand on the other side of the food court building. More food vendors are spread throughout the grounds.
There are several permanent and portable restrooms available to the public. The restrooms are always clean and well maintained.
Despite the large crowds, the grounds are well kept, and the event is well organized. The experience and dedication of the Carlisle Event team pays off in a pleasant experience for attendees.
The Car Auction
In addition to the car corral, there was also a three-day auction, held at a facility adjacent to the Carlisle Fairgrounds. Although most of the cars were muscle cars, the auction also offered a variety of pre-60 and late model cars. One of the stars of the show was a pristine Desert Rose (pink) ’57 T-Bird with white interior. This dual-quad iconic collector car was almost too pretty to drive on the road. One spectator said, “I could put this car in my living room.” Since this was a reserve auction, not all of the rare and unique cars on the auction block sold, but every vehicle had its time in the spotlight.
Admission to the Event
Admission was $10 person each day or $30 for all 5 days.
Because of the large influx of people into Carlisle for the car show, the traffic flow was noticeably slower after getting off of Interstate 81 or the Pennsylvania Turnpike. You should expect significant delays, so plan accordingly.
Parking is available at several entrances to the Fairgrounds. Also, many nearby homeowners rent parking spaces in their driveways and lawns. They charge $5 to $10, depending on how close their location is to the entrance gates.
Places to Stay
There are many hotels in Carlisle or on the outskirts of town. However, they book up early, especially for Friday and Saturday. Also, the rates for these local hotels can be fairly expensive. Check out Harrisburg or Mechanicsburg as alternative locations for lodging. If you do some research on the surrounding area, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a hotel room, even if you are late in making a reservation.
Places to Eat
Two unique restaurants in the area are Appalachian Brewing Company and or Lancaster Brewing Company in Harrisburg. They both have great food. And, if you’re thirsty after a long day at the car show, you can sample some of the many beers available in the microbreweries.
The Market Cross Pub, located in Carlisle, is another interesting restaurant. It is an English-style pub, with a large selection of draft and bottled beers. They have a wide assortment of dishes, but my favorites are Beef ‘N Guinness and Cottage Pie.
Another Car Event is Right Around the Corner
If you missed the spring event at Carlisle, you still have a lot of opportunities to visit another one of the scheduled events this year. The Ford, Chrysler, and GM Nationals are held in June and July. Then in the fall, Carlisle holds a Truck event, followed by a Corvette show. The final event is the fall Collector Car Meet, held in September.
If you want to buy, sell, or just swap stories about your first set of wheels, Carlisle is the place to be.
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The Contributor has no connection to nor was paid by the brand or product described in this content.