A Beginner’s Guide to the Fall Carlisle Car Show

It was a 1982 Chevy Camaro. Lola was her name. My late husband had saved his hard-earned money to purchase Lola when he wasChevy Camaro just 15 years old. When he blew the horn, the “Dukes of Hazzard” theme played. He picked me up in it for one of our first dates. It was our getaway car at our wedding (there’s probably still birdseed under the floorboards). After he passed, his family asked if they could keep it for our niece. Gotta tell ya, I may just tear up seeing her drive it one day. She always said it was “Uncle Zach’s Baby.”

Most men (and some women) have a “baby.” The relationship between men and their cars has existed as long as the automobile itself. Where do they find these life-long friends? Most times at car auctions and events, bought from someone who loved the car just as much as they do, who can share its quirks and history, who can share the joy as they hand it off to someone else to create their own.

Many of those memories are created at Fall Carlisle.

The Fall Carlisle event plays host to hundreds of thousands of collectors and classic-car enthusiasts, all of whom flood the 150-acre Carlisle Pa., Fairgrounds from all over the world. It all takes place Sept. 27 – Oct. 1, 2017. We recently sat down with Mike Garland, Carlisle Public Relations Manager, to get some insider tips for first-timers attending the event.

Pace yourself

And bring your walking shoes! With more than 8,100 vendors covering the 150-acre Carlisle Fairgrounds, you’re going to cover some ground. Use the event guide to map the areas you’d like to hit throughout the five-day event. You can check out last year’s guide right now and the 2017 guide will be available the week of the event. And be sure to charge your Fit Bit. With more than 15 miles of paved walking paths, you’ll reach your step goal by lunch.

Find your baby

Fall Carlisle can be described as an “automotive flea market.” The majority of the grounds is flooded with a massive swap meet full of hidden gems. The Car Corral located on the far east side will have more than 2,000 vehicles for sale by owner. Deals are done directly with the previous owner so you are able to work out the best price as well as get the vehicle’s real story. The Fall Carlisle event also includes a three-day collector auction at the Expo Center on the grounds. There is a free shuttle service to the Center where more than 500 cars are available for bidding.

Early (or sometimes late) bird gets the worm

Gates to the swap meet open at 7 a.m. Those looking to find that one-of-a-kind collector item usually do so right away in the morning. On the other hand, if you’re a bargain lover (like me!) some of the best deals can be found at the end of the five-day event when vendors are looking to get rid of items they haven’t sold. Bring your best bartering skills and you’re sure to find that special item you’ve been looking for.

Find something too big to carry back to your car? Carlisle has handcarts available for a small donation. Find something even bigger? Carlisle provides free parts hauling to your vehicle and has forklifts on site (small donations are recommended).

Come hungry, leave happy

One non-automotive attraction to Fall Carlisle is the food. The fairgrounds offer fair-style food available to munch while you shop. A number of local and commercial food vendors set-up shop throughout the grounds. Most of these “pit stops” raise money for local organizations, like the Boy Scouts or Carlisle High School. Sign me up for a gyro and deep-fried Oreo!

And that’s not all. There’s a free metal-fabrication seminar, daily driver blowout and Manufacturer’s Midway (be sure to stop by the AMSOIL booth for a special promotion!). Traffic will most likely be a headache, so be sure to bring your patience. But there will be plenty of parking offered by both Carlisle and locals in the area, with most lots at about $10 a day. Gate tickets are $10 a day with children 12 and under free.

So, if you’re in the market for your baby (or another one to add to your collection), make the trip out east Sept. 27 – Oct. 1. You can stay up to date on all the action throughout the event on our Facebook and Instagram.

They say all roads lead to Carlisle, so keep calm and drive on!

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