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World-class car events have made the HHR a hub for classic & collectible car enthusiasts.

Dating back to 1955 the region has been building a car culture that now has the attention of the world thanks to some of the largest car shows in the country and two new events: The Elegance At Hershey and Mecum Auctions coming in 2014.

Hershey Harrisburg: a hub for classic & collectible car enthusiasts
Since 1955 the region has quietly become a world-class destination for everything cars.

Hershey, PA – “Our region is widely recognized for our family-friendly attractions around the town of Hershey and as the hub of state government in the city of Harrisburg,” said Rick Dunlap, Director of Communications for the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB). “But over decades the area has grown somewhat quietly into a distinguished destination heralded around the world by the classic and collector car community.” 

Collectors and connoisseurs have in deed come to know and love the region as a destination for events and year-round attractions that appeal to all levels of car enthusiasts. From swap meets to the rarest cars in the world, anyone with a craving for anything related to classic or vintage cars will eventually find their way to the Hershey Harrisburg Region, tucked conveniently in south-central part of Pennsylvania.

Why the region has been able to become the hot spot for cars events that it is today is likely rooted in the same reason it became the capitol of the Keystone State. Location, location, location. The region is centrally located and easily accessible to a high concentration of America’s population centers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. But the seeds of this great oak tree were planted many years ago by some dedicated local visionaries who you may say followed a dream, pushed the limits, or simply over-pursued a hobby. Let’s jump in our DeLorean time machine and set the year to 1955. 

Starting Line – 1955

The story of the region’s automobile obsession seems to begin in 1955 with the annual AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet in Hershey. The event is considered to be one of the largest antique automobile shows and flea markets in the U.S. and attracts attendees from around the world, according to the Hershey Region AACA; the organization that produces the event. The show has grown over the years to include over 9,000 flea market spaces; 1,000 car corral spaces; and approximately 1,500 show cars. 

A Common Ground – 1974

Carlisle Events and the Carlisle Fairgrounds, in neighboring Cumberland County, has grown since 1974 when Chip Miller and Bill Miller, Jr., two life-long friends infatuation with cars, decided to form one of the first companies in the U.S. dedicated to producing events for the collector car and truck hobbyists. Until that time the only cars deemed worthy of collecting were pre-WWII automobiles. Today the company produces the largest car, truck and motorcycle collector events in the country. The Spring Show, which organizers say is their largest annual event, draws 100,000 people and contributes an estimated $100 million to the regional economy. 

A Home for History – 1985

In 1985 the region became home to the AACA Research Center and Library and today houses 400,000 pieces of sales literature, photos, owner’s manuals and news clippings. Car enthusiasts can also locate shop manuals and parts books from the 3,000 on file and over 6,000 reference books. The center also has 40,000 magazines, historic maps, vintage postcards, blueprints, technical drawings and paint chips for those with an attention to detail.

The Museum Marks the Spot – 2003

In 2003 the AACA Museum opened as a complement to the organization’s Research Center and Library. The majestic 71,000 square-foot Smithsonian Affiliated Museum is a three-story museum atop a scenic hillside in Hershey that hosts weddings and special events among its collections that include the Museum of Bus Transportation; 30 motorcycles, motorbikes and Cushman; and 100 cars. 

A Rare Affair – 2011

The Elegance at Hershey began in Hershey in 2011 at The Hershey Hotel® as the realization of a dream by founder John (Jack) Rich and his friend Steve Moskowitz, AACA Executive Director. The vision was to create a unique car event that provides the rare opportunity for individuals to view world class vehicles up-close and in-person. 

Although Jack Rich passed away in December of 2011 shortly after seeing his vision come to life, his family and event organizers carry on his legacy of elegance and philanthropy. 

The weekend of vintage racing and a judged Concours d'Elegance featuring 75 of the world’s rarest vehicles has raised a half-million dollars over a three-year period for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF); AACA Library and Research Center; and the AACA Museum.

Mecum Moves In - 2014

Mecum Auctions, the largest collector car auction company in the world announced in 2013 it would be expanding its annual circuit schedule to include a much-anticipated East Coast auction. The auction will be held at the PA Farm Show Complex & Expo Center (FSC) in Harrisburg from July 24-26 in 2014 and be broadcast on the NBC Sports Group Network under a new agreement signed in late 2013 between the auction company and the network. Local tourism officials anticipate the event will draw up to 20,000 people and contribute $4 million to the regional economy.

Author: Rick Dunlap

Public Relations Director
Visit Hershey & Harrisburg
3211 North Front Street, Suite 301 A, Harrisburg, PA 17110