The Great Hershey Swamp Meet…

Everyone has a bucket list. Some want to travel, some experience great adventures, some write or read or learn a new language. My husband’s included a visit to the biggest old car swap meet in the country, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

If you have attended a Midwest swap meet of any kind, you can picture this one. Old car parts, license plates, hub caps, and miscellaneous crap highly valuable items on tables, the ground, or the tail bed of a truck. Now expand your horizon to miles and miles of this. Then throw in old cars for sale, a car show and the Wienermobile and you have Hershey!

Yes, we saw the Wienermobile up close and personal.

On the way there, I had the song “Graceland” in my head. I changed it, and the rest of the trip it was “I’m going to Hershey, Hershey, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo. There is an amusement park there that closed for the weekend just for the swap meet. Apparently they used to have it in a field. My dad called swap meets “swamp meets” and from what I hear, Hershey used to fit that description. It was challenging in the mud. There might still be a couple guys stuck there refusing to admit that the mud won. I fought the mud and the…mud won…

Meanwhile, now they hold it on the cement of the amusement park. It was very appropriate, as I felt like I used to when we went to Cedar Point. When we went to Cedar Point, we would wear good walking shoes, shorts and a cool shirt, and carry nothing but Tylenol and Chapstick (and of course money for Mama Berardi’s fries). Everybody at Hershey had either a wagon, backpack, or some type of carrier. We had our daughter’s old drum carrier. We were ready!

We got there early, which probably wasn’t ideal as it turns out that most of the vendors slept in. It was the fourth day of the show and I guess they just weren’t as eager as we were. But no worries, we walked around and got the lay of the land. We walked for about 7 hours, stopping only for walking tacos and muffins. We did not cover it all. The amount of cars and car parts was mind boggling. There was everything from Model T to an AMC. The cars for sale were not cheap; some were over $200,000. The rusty old parts on the other hand, were reasonable. You could get a whole box of unknowable rusty items for $1.

A little out of our price range…
This is more like it!

My favorite item that I would have left with was a bumper car. I have a thing for amusement parks, and this was actually used in one. It was AWESOME! But, besides the $3000 price tag, we had no way to get it home. Our Subaru trunk isn’t big enough. I’m thinking of taking the couches and desk out of the basement and making it a rec room with old amusement park items. I’ve found a carousel tiger and the bumper car. Now if I could find a used antique car (little one) or a water ride it would be perfect. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of it, and then couldn’t find it.

We made a friend…

Where was Chester during this mega meet? Well, a lot of people did bring dogs, but we thought he would have more fun at Doggie Day Camp. It was such a lot of walking. Those with dogs had little ones and had a stroller or a wagon with a bed in it or carried them. Chester would have had to walk all that time. But he had a good time too. He was totally exhausted just like us. He was sleeping on the bed while I changed the sheets and wouldn’t move. I gave up and came back later. Next time we may take a wagon with sides and he can ride in it. The biggest challenge would be to keep him from peeing on all the stuff.

My husband mentioned that before the internet this was the only way to find parts. It’s certainly not efficient. But a guy in the hotel was telling us that he comes more to socialize. My brother went to Hershey with my dad. There were father/son combinations of all ages. I think in the past it was “purer” and stuck to car parts and related items. Now some of the tables look like someone cleaned out their attic and threw it all in. Jewelry, old hats and toys were all available. It was still largely car stuff though. I had no idea what most of it was. I almost bought an Elvis doll.

Experiences hold people together. I doubt if the vendors made that much money to be honest. We were there on the last day and they had a lot left. But it’s face to face contact with people and everybody who’s anybody is there. Everyone is searching for the Holy Grail of auto parts. For some, it is sharing a day with someone, like my husband and I did. For some of the older men, it’s a group of friends. Once a year they hang out at Hershey. I liked Hershey. They gave us Hershey kisses when we entered. I’m glad we went. Next time we’ll have to rent a truck to bring home the bumper car.

The port-a-potty was not for sale. I guess it was for the convenience of the visitors.

It warrants mention that we ate dinner at Harrisburg, at a place called Cork and Fork. It was downtown with a view of the state capitol building. It was probably one of the top three restaurants I have ever been to. It was a perfect ending to a long day. I do have to admit that on the way back to the hotel we stopped at Sheetz and got junk food. I’m still recovering.

Have a good week!