Fall Carlisle celebrates 40 years of old-car festivities

The 1982 Carlisle Fairgrounds event presented acres of cars and trucks for sale | Carlisle Events
The 1982 Carlisle Fairgrounds event presented acres of cars and trucks for sale | Carlisle Events

Forty years ago, a major old-car extravaganza put Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on the map for legions of automotive enthusiasts with a sweeping array of swap meets, specialty vendors and acres of cool vintage cars for sale.

Carlisle Events is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with its flagship Fall Carlisle show that started it all. Organizers are calling this one “a party to end all parties” with a DJ spinning hits from each decade as the many vendors and participants from over the years gathering for food, drink and storytelling.

Commemorative T-shirts for sale during the 1978 show | Carlisle Events
Commemorative T-shirts for sale during the 1978 show | Carlisle Events

Fall Carlisle, which takes place October 1-5 at the Carlisle Fairgrounds, brings together the East Coast’s most expansive old-car festival. Annually, it has become a must-do event for car collectors and hobbyists, as well as the dreamers who just want to take in the unique atmosphere. It’s a place for restorers to search for that elusive rare part, as well as those looking for their next project car.

In recent years, Carlisle Events has expanded to 14 car, truck and specialty shows, most of them at the Fairgrounds or at surrounding Pennsylvania venues, plus an expansion show in Zephyrhills, Florida.

A unique feature for the 40th anniversary show will be an “automotive timeline” of cars from 1974 through 2014 that will be on display in Building G, which in 1974 was still a tractor dealership. The building will be the scene of a special celebration Saturday with vendors, guests, organizers and the community invited to attend.

Muddy bell bottoms at the rainy 1976 Carlisle swap meet | Carlisle Events
Muddy bell bottoms at the rainy 1976 Carlisle swap meet | Carlisle Events

The timeline display will include vehicles that reflect the many facets of the group’s current events, including the Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals, Carlisle Ford Nationals, Carlisle GM Nationals, Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, Carlisle Performance & Style, Carlisle Truck Nationals, Bloomsburg Nationals and Corvettes at Carlisle.

During the October show, there will also be an invitation-only dinner for the original vendors from 1974 who still take part in Carlisle Events. The original vending group from 1974 filled more than 600 spaces and totaled approximately 250-300 actual vendors.

Polishing the chrome at the 1984 Corvette meet | Carlisle Events
Polishing the chrome at the 1984 Corvette meet | Carlisle Events

“Otherwise, Fall Carlisle will continue to be the automotive Disney World that many believe it to be,” the organizers say in a news release.  “Some 100,000 guests will flock to America’s Automotive Hometown to buy, sell and trade all things automotive.

“The now 8,100 spaces that make up the grounds will be filled with something for everyone, be it a collectible, new old stock item, aftermarket upgrade or original piece of automotive history.”

Meanwhile, Carlisle Auctions will hold its annual fall sale October 2-3 with around 300 cars crossing the block at the Carlisle Expo Center, providing enthusiasts plenty of chances to bid on the select auction cars.  The Expo Center is two blocks from the fairgrounds, within walking distance although a free shuttle will also be available.

A daily pass to Fall Carlisle is $10 ($7 on Sunday), with kids 12 and younger admitted free, and includes admittance to the auction.  For more information, see www.CarlisleEvents.com.

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