HomeNews and EventsCarlisle Events reflects on Spring Carlisle controversy

Carlisle Events reflects on Spring Carlisle controversy

No time to rest, Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals event is this coming weekend


Since its founding in 1974 by two men, Chip Miller and Bill Miller Jr., who were not related despite having the same last name, Carlisle Events literally has weathered many storms and survived after Chip Miller’s death. But what it took to stage the annual Spring Carlisle car show and swap meet this past weekend turned out to be the biggest challenge in the company’s history.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Spring Carlisle was postponed, and even then, the collector car auction that is part of the show weekend was canceled over concerns of people crowding together in the auction arena.

There were all sorts of social distancing and health procedures put into place. Nonetheless, as the show was about to open, the Pennsylvania Department of Health went to court to stop the event.

Bandana-wearing vendors look like outlaws from the days of the Wild West
Masks were encouraged, but not everyone wore them

That seemed strange, since the governor had just taken part in a massing protest demonstration and also had signed off on the resumption of motorsports activities in the state, including a NASCAR racing weekend June 27-28.

Spring Carlisle proceeded, and the organizers and state settled their dispute, with the state withdrawing its objection, but not without anxiety and some staggering legal bills, Bill Miller and Chip’s son, Lance, noted in a video interview:

“It’s important for our guests to know that we are open for business,” Carlisle Events co-owner Bill Miller Jr. is quoted in a post-event news release. “What happened last week was just another speed bump on the road paved by 2020 to date.  

“Of course, the success of this came at a cost.  I encourage everyone to support what we do here at Carlisle, either by attending in person or buying tickets/vending/registering to show,” he added.  “You can even gift your purchase in case you can’t attend yourself.  However you attend, know that we’re here and we look forward to seeing you at Carlisle this year and beyond.”

Even without the auction, “The fact that 1/3 of what makes this event what it is didn’t happen didn’t dampen the spirits of guests, as the automotive flea market and car corral didn’t miss a beat,” the company said.  “A nice array of cars spanning all eras of production were for sale by owner, while vendors sprawled their wares across 82 acres, making the show a pickers delight.

“Overall, vendors and show participants were overjoyed that the show continued as planned… Offering a little normalcy for everyone involved went a long way too, as feedback from participants was that of support and excitement throughout the week.”

Mid-’50s Pontiac convertible draws interest in the cars-for-sale lot
1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe awaits a new owner

Carlisle Events next showcase at its fairgrounds venue is scheduled for be the Carlisle Chevrolet Nationals, June 26-27, featuring GM vehicles of the 1970s, 50 years of the LS6 454, a Solid Lifter Showroom, 50 years of the Chevy Monte Carlo, and a gathering hosted by the First Gen Monte Carlo Club.

Chrysler Nationals are scheduled for July 10-12 and Ford Nationals are July 31-August 2.

For more information, visit the Carlisle Events website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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