Hershey Pa may be the epicenter of the US candy industry, and the home of all things chocolate, but it is also arguably at the heart of the east coast car culture. Between Hershey and Carlisle a few miles down the road, there are dozens of gatherings from Spring through Fall, involving everything from AC Bristols to ZX-14s. Several of these gatherings are the largest in the country, and the Hershey Porsche Swapmeet is one of them. The Internet may have taken its toll on swapmeets in general, but it is still a place where you will see the largest gathering of Porsches of all eras in one place each year. 2009 had over 1100 cars attend.
The swapmeet is legendary for unpredictable weather. I have seen, snow, hail, high winds, and sweltering heat at this event. 2010 was a little chilly early on, but the temperature reached 70 degrees by noon. Very nice. Hershey is also a place where you catch up with people that you have not seen since the last swapmeet. You get to find out what has been happening, or not, with various projects. You also get to meet new people who it turns out have interesting stories as well. Like the mysterious “they” say, it’s not about the cars, its about the people. So here are a few people categories.
Newbies. These folks are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They have come after hearing about the legend and folklore of the event, like the time Fritz bought the 4-Cam motor from this guy for $50 because he didn’t know what it was. Newbies are looking for a few key parts like a key fob for the basket case with no motor that they bought. They meander around the whole field. Veterans. The vets are convinced that there is very little chance of finding a good deal, but they are there every year in case one turns up. They know what they are doing, are focused, and walk briskly through the field in the early morning hours. They can smell NOS from the parking lot.
Persistents. Some of the attendees have been working on the same project for years, and come to Hershey every year in search of very specific items. Sort of like if the Sistine Chapel was held up because of a particular brush no longer made, but still in existence somewhere. The stories of knockoffs and near misses are great stuff. They stop selectively and spend quality time.
Accumulators. Some attendees have so many projects that almost everything is potentially of interest. They may need a 914 decklid, and Fuchs for their SC, but they also need bumper plugs for their RS3. They move quickly and make several trips back to the truck with the wagon they are pulling.
Prospectors. These folks don’t really need anything, but are susceptible to a great deal. They are the impulse buyers. They may buy a set of Mahle pistons because it was a steal, and then go find a motor and a car to put them in. They meander around like Newbies, but they are not.
Rendezvousers. They made a deal before the meet, and came to pick up or sell the loot. However, they must make an obligatory sweep of the field in case something catches their eye. Depending on whther they bought or sold, they have money in a dangerous place for a car-guy to be, or they have spent a bunch and are in a dangerous place for a car-guy to be.
Concoursers. There is an actual car show associated with this event with spectacular examples of the breed. These folks are too busy cleaning and answering questions from the rest of us to spend much time browsing for worse examples of what they have.
Socializers. For a pretty large contingent, Hershey is just a great excuse to get your car out and drive to an event where you are sure to find like-minded people. You might buy a t-shirt or some french fries, and you will certainly ogle all the cars and parts, but all of that is incidental. Its about the people.