They say "All Roads Lead to Hershey," as that's where a significant number of old-car enthusiasts head each October. Although the week includes a giant car show and some impressive auctions, the highlight for many is the massive flea market. The "swap meet" is spread over many acres and includes hundreds of vendors selling everything from old car parts, antique bicycles and gasoline pumps to vintage clothing, old automobile manuals and collector cars.
Nope, that's a 1916...
Willy and I learned that one needs to wear comfortable shoes and plan on walking a LOT of miles to cover the swap meet grounds. I spent two full days strolling the meet in 2009 and don't think I saw it all. It's helpful to have a list of what you hope to find, as it can be overwhelming to see SO much stuff. Plus, you might be tempted to buy things you don't really need ("But honey, that old Waltham dash clock will look great on the mantle!"). Bring a daypack for your water bottle and small purchases; the smart folks bring wagons for hauling their new treasures. Only a few of the vendors are able to process credit card transactions and some won't take checks either, so bring plenty of cash.
Besides looking for your own treasures, it's entertaining to see what others are searching for--and how they advertise that. Just be sure to ask for permission before snapping their photo. Most will oblige!
In addition to vendors, many great organizations have booths worth visiting. I really enjoyed meeting folks from the Society of Automotive Historians, Pierce-Arrow Society, Wills Sainte Claire Museum and Horseless Carriage Club of America when I went in 2009. I also took a side trip to the AACA Library to do some research on our cars, and I highly recommend a visit there (and the AACA Museum, of course!).
Willy, our museum manager, will be at Hershey again this year. Chances are you can find him at the Restoration Supply Company booth (Red Field, RWN 9-13), where he'll be handing out brochures for our museum and sharing some of Wedgewood Resort's delicious Alaska salmon. Stop by and say hello!
The Hershey Fall Meet is October 5-8 this year, and you can find information about it here.
**10/04/11 Update - More good advice is being posted over on the AACA Forum here.
9/29/14 Update - Considering how wet Hershey has been during recent swap meets, you might want to add an umbrella and rain jacket to your day pack!
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum