Not even snow could stop the show at the 42nd Spring Jefferson Auto Swap Meet & Car Show, but it certainly tried.
In the days before the April 26-28 event at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Jefferson, Wis., the weather forecast grew increasingly bleak. While the first day of the event was expected to be sunny, forecasters were issuing a winter storm warning for the following day.
“At one point, the weathermen said 1-9 inches [of snow],” said Gary Esse, founder of Madison Classics, which hosts Spring Jefferson. “The weekend before, it was 83 degrees here.”
Given the incoming snow, vendors and spectators flocked to the show on opening day, a Friday, which is usually Spring Jefferson’s second biggest event day after Saturday.
“This year, Friday was the big day,” Esse said. “We actually sold out Friday — it was pretty good. All of the spaces were pretty tight.”
Vendors that Old Cars spoke to reported strong sales on Friday and even on Saturday, especially before the snow hit in the mid afternoon.
“The weather predictions scared most people away by Saturday, but we still sold quite a bit,” said Chad Elmore, a vendor. “There were several vendors walking around looking for deals and folks who’d driven a long way who didn’t want to go home empty.”
By the time the snow stopped Saturday night, there was 3.8 inches of sloppy wet snow covering the remaining vehicles and vendor parts on the fairgrounds. Then, just as the weathermen predicted, the ground went from white back to green by Sunday.
“The snow was gone Sunday by 10 a.m. and it turned into a nice day,” Elmore said. “Kevin, who I shared the spot with, stayed open Sunday and said he was still selling stuff at noon. For most of those who didn’t run to avoid the blizzard of ’19, it was a good weekend.”
“It was a tough one, it just was,” said Esse. “What can you say? I think a lot of the vendors that stuck around did OK.
“I think we were hurt pretty bad because of attendance, but the interest supported the program,” Esse added.
Esse said there were a couple hundred cars in this year’s Spring Jefferson car corral and he says cars were moving before the storm.
“The show car area was bleak, but there’s still a certain amount of guys who brought their cars for sale and sold their cars, and I know they weren’t cheap.”
In the 3800 vending spaces of Spring Jefferson, Esse reported several new vendors, some from as far away as Kansas and Ohio. Among the trends he and other vendors spotted was a continuing interest in trucks.
“I think that pickup trucks are really coming along,” he said. “The interest level is up quite a bit in that area. And it’s not just guys but girls as well.”
Madison Classics will be hosting two more events this year, both of which are well out of the range of possible snow (even in Wisconsin). The 34th annual Summer Elkhorn Auto Swap Meet & Car Show will be held Aug. 3-4 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, Wis. The 42nd Fall Jefferson will follow from Sept. 27-29 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.