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The show held at the Farm Show Complex prior to the Harrisburg Auto Show is a 'Farm Show.' Tractors, live stock, and the latest in farming equipment are on display for all to see. As those activities subside, the preparation for the Harrisburg Auto Show begins. By the time of the auto show, the remnants of the prior event have disappeared except for a faint smell of farm animals. Reading that last sentence may make you twinge and maybe even chuckle a little, but it has become a signature and trademark for the show. Harrisburg is located in the lower portion of Pennsylvania and splits the state's two largest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Everything north is rolling hills and quaint little towns and rural areas. As such, the farm show is always a popular and well attended event. The visit to the Harrisburg Auto Show is always a study in the market trends of rural America for us. What kind of cars and concepts are being displayed and why?
The show is a 'kick-the-tire' kind of event and one that never disappoints. It is a multi-faceted event that seems to have something for everyone. A large display of boats have young and old climbing aboard, eagerly exploring and touch all buttons and levers. In the lower portion of the hall, there is usually a classic car display. In years past it has been a British corral, Mustang Corral, and Corvette Corral. Not to be outdone, generation 'X' shows off their interpretation of the automobile. Where the cars of the Corvette corral were modified mostly under-hood, the modifications of 'genX' were thorough, flamboyant, and unmistakable. The entire project was unique from colors, to mechanical components, to interiors, rims, tires, and more. There were many words used throughout the day to describe these cars such as alluring, obscene, excessive, dramatic, impressive and unique.
Pennsylvania climate truly consists of all four seasons and as a result the cars that are brought to the show tend to favor the variety in climate. That's why its always a pleasant surprise to see cars that are a little less suited for the variable climate such as the Maybach's, Ferrari's, and Maserati's in attendance. The Ferrari's low stance and wide, slick tires allow them to outrun and outperform most of the cars on the road. Unless of course, there is snow, potholes, or no pavement, in which case these machines are laid to hibernate in the comforts of a garage, while other cars are left to rack-up miles on the odometer.
The Antique Auto Museum at Hershey (AACA) has faithfully brought cars to the show for a number of years. This is where walking traffic often slows, and at times, comes to a halt. The cars they bring from the museum inspire and fascinate; the accompanying information plaque gives a brief history of the car, the marque, and/or the model. There is so much detail in each of these cars from hood ornaments, to bumpers, lights, emblems, and coachwork, that it takes passers-by a few minutes to soak it all in and enjoy the vehicles ambiance.
Kick-the tires, talk with the product specialists, schedule appointments to visit dealerships to take a test drive, sit in the car, inspect the instrumentation, and do comparison shopping with the rest of the cars on the market. Anything that could be removed is usually done so before the start of the show. The batteries have been disconnected to alleviate the possibility of the horn blowing or the high beams blinding passers-by. It is the scene of a typical auto show with its own unique charm. A few concepts were shown to gauge reaction, educate, and attract. Some times the vehicle is left up to the interpretation of those viewing while other times a product specialist will detail the car's features, purpose, and future plans. Many times they slowly rotate on a pedestal while fingers point, eyeballs stare and the mind stores and processes what they are seeing. 'Are they really gonna build that?'
Most cities have an annual car show and many are done in similar fashion. LA, Detroit, New York, and Chicago are this country's magnet for new car introductions and debuts, with thousands of people attending from all corners of the world. The Harrisburg Show has its own unique flare that begins with the aroma of the Farm Show Complex and continues to the sprint back to the car at the close of the show as the Pennsylvania winter wind rips through the thickest of jackets. It is an annual event and a tradition for many households, and one that keeps getting better every year.
|Prior Year Coverage|