Studebaker event a journey to past
For the sixth year, Fredonia’s annual Studebaker Swap Meet will return to the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds today and Saturday welcoming all Studebaker enthusiasts and the general public alike to participate in the festivities. While the festival didn’t happen last year because of COVID-19, Steven Grant, chairman of the event, is happy to see the vendors and public back in Floral Hall to celebrate anything related to Studebakers.
“It’s basically a swap meet where people bring in Studebaker parts, toys, literature, and memorabilia of all kinds,” Grant said. “There are cars here for sale and we have some cars on display in Floral Hall. We’ll be pretty full of vendors and I’ll even have some outdoor vendors.”
Grant said he has vendors coming in from places all over the country, including Tennessee, Michigan, the New England area, and one person from Canada who was allowed to cross the border due to it being for retail purposes. And though the normal crowd from Canada won’t be able to make the trip, Grant is expecting a good turnout based on some of the feedback he’s gotten.
“I’m hoping this year will turnout to be really good,” Grant said. “I’ve got some really good responses from people asking what’s in the area and where they should stay so I think we’ll get a good turnout.”
Similar to the vendors, people drive from all over to attend these festivities. Grant said he has people from Illinois and New Jersey attending the event. The festival serving a niche purpose does draw in attention, but the allure of the memorabilia and toys specifically is popular with general audiences as well.
“A lot of people find interesting stuff,” Grant said. “The toys and memorabilia are pretty popular with the general crowd.”
The vendors for the event mostly sell Studebaker supplies and memorabilia, though there are some generic antique vendors who make the trek out as well. The Swap Meet has grown pretty significantly over its history as well. Grant said that their first year in 2014, they had 15 vendors, while this year, they welcome 33 to the Fairgrounds. Grant figures their normal number will be between 30 and 35 vendors on average. And while there used to be a similar event in York, Pa., that event is no longer run, meaning Grant is trying to pick up the slack.
“There was a Swap Meet in York and State College,” Grant said. “I just thought it would be fun to have something like that up this way. York stopped having theirs, so we’re trying to pick up where that left off.”
Grant himself has been interested in Studebakers for years now, as his father gave him a Studebaker when he was nine years old to drive around his property with. The local chapter of the Studebaker Drivers Club started in 1995, which is how this Swap Meet spawned in the first place. As time has gone on, Grant has seen people come to the Swap Meet out of curiosity and leave as a member of the club.
“Some people find it interesting enough that they may buy a Studebaker,” Grant said. “We’ve had people buy one and join the club because they’ve found it to be interesting.”
Of all the interesting things that will be at the Swap Meet, Grant highlighted his own ’59 Studebaker truck that will be on display, as well as a Studebaker horse drawn buggy from the 1800s, as that’s how Studebakers started out.
The event is free for anyone wishing to come look around, with ample amounts of free parking at the Fairgrounds. There will also be food on site, as well as many other interesting things.
The Swap Meet will be open today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while Saturday will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., closing early so that those individuals with long commutes have ample time to make it home.