Parking At Shows

By Staff
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A recent topic on EnginAds Smok-Stak at

Various individuals started, commented on and concluded this
bulletin board thread. . .

It has been brought up with our club and some others about the
parking of exhibitors vehicles at shows. I would like your opinion
on whether or not we should be allowed to park next to our engines
or have to park in the parking lot that is almost always all the
way across the grounds from our displays. I personally think that
it benefits us to have them close by, say in the event that you
need a tool or a book or part that you wouldn’t have just
sitting on the ground or out in plain view. It has been brought up
that this takes away from the antique spirit of the show and we
should have to park elsewhere.

My sons and I like to keep our truck with our display, we can
keep a tool box, gas can, planks and whatever in the truck, plus it
gives you a place to sit, at a big show it can get kind of tight to
get in and out sometimes.

At the shows I show at, they allow parking by the display
(camping as well). I would not want to have my vehicle somewhere
else, same reasons as you stated. Also, at night I wouldn’t
want to leave my engines unattended. My vote is with you!

At our show exhibitors are allowed to park next to their
display. I wouldn’t want my stuff left unattended either, even
though we do hire night security (dusk to dawn). Seems no matter
how safe you THINK you are, if someone wants to pull some stunt,
they will find a way! Another valid reason for staying by your
stuff is in the event of weather changes you don’t have to run
your butt off!

I vote FOR camping and parking with your display. That way you
can keep an eye on your stuff. And if you look at some of the
fastest growing shows (Florida Flywheelers, Waukee, Iowa, South
Haven, Michigan, they allow camping and parking with your display.
It’s just more fun that way.

I did the muzzle loading rifle, buckskin, rendezvous,
‘thing’ for about 20 years. At all of those events we had
to park our vehicles 1/8 to mile away. If it
was rainy or the ground was wet we had to pack everything we had in
from the parking lot. That included tent, bedding (no modern
‘stuff) food, and fire wood. I would like to have my
‘stuff’ close to my trailer as well, but I do think it
distracts from the nostalgia of the old equipment. Besides, we
probably ALL need the exercise. Some shows provide a tractor to
park your trailer and that makes it a lot easier. Especially if you
have a motorhome. I vote to keep the vehicles away from the

Like everyone else says, nice to have tools and anything else
that’s best kept close by, but not out on the ground to be
tripped over. I suppose you could bring an antique truck and have a
truck show, too.

I do not display at shows where I can’t park (next to or
behind) my engines (all those extra needed items are in the pickup:
tools, gas, tarp, ice chest, sleeping bag, pillow, pills, etc.). I
also avoid displaying at those shows where they make you unload
your engine. I like to leave them on the trailer for safety reasons
(just another barrier for folks to cross to get ‘up close’
and tangled up), and it’s just easier. You can’t keep
everybody behind the safety ropes.

There are valid points to both sides of this issue. The one
thing that I do object to is being asked to park my truck ‘off
site’ in the exhibitor parking lot only to look around later
during the day to see that that same requirement has not been made
of others.

This is something that I have seen happen all too often in 22
years of attending engine shows. Where you park depends on whether
or not you are a member of the club hosting the show. If the rules
are no parking with your display, then this should apply
to everyone. But, as often is the case, you abide by the club’s
rules and park outside the exhibit area. Then, look around a little
later and guess who is parking with their display? Club members. I
guess this would be described as the privileged character rule. I
don’t know whether or not some of these clubs notice it or not,
but clubs that have done this to my wife and me, never see us
again. That is my rule. If a club has a rule on parking or any
other rules, it should apply to everyone, whether member or guest.
Then no one is offended. It would be good if all clubs, when they
advertise their show would make it clear as to their
exhibit/parking rules. Then collectors could easily decide whether
to attend the show or not. No one objects to handicapped persons as
to where they park or display.

I have been attending the Berryville, Virginia, show for over
twenty years and we have always had to drop off our engines and
park somewhere else. Since I have grown up with this, I don’t
mind having my truck away from my engines; when you unload for the
weekend, just unload a few tools, cooler, and some chairs and
you’re set. I try to make sure my engine(s) is in running
condition before the show, and if for some reason it fails during
the show, then I’ll try to fix it with what I’ve brought.
If not, it sits there. Engine shows are just getting too crowded to
allow everyone to park their vehicles next to their displays. I
would love the convenience, but I just don’t think it’s
fair to everyone else.

Another way I look at it is if you charge admission for your
show, then you should cater to the spectators a little bit, if not,
then do what you want.

As a spectator, I have never minded seeing someone’s vehicle
with their engine display.

This is, of course, one of those threads that can go on forever
because there is no ‘right answer.’ All of the shows here
in the Missouri/Kansas area, allow camping with the displays and as
a result, the exhibitors have become accustomed to it and resist
any change. Many of the shows here have found ways to allow the
parking/camping to coexist with the displaying by setting up their
display field ‘in the round’ with parking and camping
displays around the perimeter and a couple of rows of ‘drop
off’ displays in the center. One show uses a road about mile in
length for engine display, with electric hookups on both sides of
the road and far enough off the road to allow the exhibitors to
pull in with camper/truck/motor home and have plenty of room to
leave their trailers hooked up. Last year they had over 350 engines
on display and every exhibitor had electricity, even for AC! In
20-plus years in the hobby, I had never had to drop my display till
the first time I went to Portland, Indiana. I thought it would
‘X me off,’ but in reality, once I got there and understood
the magnitude of an engine area with 3,000 engines in it, I
understood the reason it had to be this way. I have since upgraded
my trailer to a 6×12 enclosed one, so at night I can just stash
everything in the trailer and snap on the padlocks. Bottom line, we
all want to show and have fun, and all of the shows want to put on
the best show they can, so exhibitors and show officials need to
work together for the benefit of the hobby. Just my two-cents
worth, keep the change.

I tend to like it when shows allow limited parking near the
displays. I think if you can park your truck within a hundred
yards, that’s pretty good. A little farther is okay. Most shows
could accomplish this with some planning.What I can’t stand is
going to shows and not being able to see the engines for all the
motor homes. Cars and trucks tucked within a short distance, I can
handle. Fields of big white motor homes with one engine beside the
door, I can’t.

In keeping with my new policy of not being in the least bit
antagonistic. I agree with everybody, but, if I can’t park
right next to my exhibit, I don’t exhibit.

I can understand why some shows make you drop your engines off
and park somewhere else, but I won’t show at those shows
because I’m too afraid of something coming up missing at night.
If they offer a place to park and camp 400, 600, or 1,000 feet
away, then why not just expand the showgrounds? What’s the
difference, if the show takes up 15 or 20 acres, and the
camping/parking takes another 20 acres, you’re still using 40
acres anyway you look at it. If your grounds aren’t big enough,
maybe it’s time to look for bigger grounds. I’m NOT trying
to ‘pick a fight’it’s just my two cents.

Here in Oz it is very simple. At almost all of the shows you do
not park with your display. Parking and camping is only ever a very
short walk away from the engines, which nobody seems to worry
about, but it is what we are used to. You could not fit a vehicle
inside the display areas anyway, as they allow enough room for
loading/unloading in the area and that’s it. I carry my
‘show toolbox’ which has enough tools in it to fix most
problems. Overnight the engines are tarped over and I have not
heard of any pilfering, and as there are usually a lot of people
camped very close by, it is not a problem. Motorhomes are not a
problem, as you don’t see any here.

I think that shows that have motor-homes, trucks, and all manner
of homemade buggies are tacky. Looks like no planning went into
them. I have been showing for a number of years, and have never had
a problem with engines or parts growing legs, and I have never
heard of any theft problem in the northwest. I’m sure it
happened, but it isn’t very common around here. By the way, if
I had a nickel for every person who says that they won’t go to
a show for this rule or that rule, I could retire.

A great thread, lots to learn here for show planners and
attendees. I helped plan a new show a few years back. Instead of
doing it out in the middle of a field someplace, we closed off a
couple blocks of downtown and held it there. This also enclosed
some parts of a town park. We had some areas that could handle
parking with your exhibit, we sort of left these to the older
folks, and those with health problems. The other areas could not
handle parking with the display, but we had two church parking lots
less than a block in either direction, where you could park. While
most folks preferred staying by the display, they understood the
problem of space we had and were happy to park elsewhere. Sure a
few griped, but most folks were plenty cool with it. One added
benefit of doing the show downtown was that the ladies were able to
find some shopping to do while the guys were busy petting the
engines. We had a lot of folks after the show who said they enjoyed
not being in the middle of nowhere in a field, for a change.
Several mentioned how this was the first show that the wife did not
get too cranky. As for whatever else has been commented on, in this
threadI must say that I don’t mind attending shows with the
parking nearby or far away, but I get annoyed at walking past
bunches of people who seem too cheap to pay for a campsite
elsewhere, and just set out one crusty Briggs & Stratton next
to the door under the awning, behind the gas barbecue of a 6 foot
motor-home so they can say they are exhibitorsmy two cents on the

I like to park with my display when possible. I do understand
that at some shows, like Portland, that this isn’t possible. I
like to stop by the other campers, pickups, etc., and sit down and
talk old engines. My wife likes to sit at our exhibit and knit,
read or talk to the other wives. I don’t even mind the 60 ft.
campers with a rusty Briggs if there is room. I just smile, say
hello, and keep walking. I just like the atmosphere, fellowship and
rusty old engines no matter where everyone is parked or what
they’ve brought. The one thing I don’t like is the kids
riding all sorts of mowers as fast as they can, and even treating
them like bumper cars and running into each other. Adults and even
children riding at a safe speed and watching out for people
walking, I don’t mind. Everyonego to all the shows you can and
have a good time.

If you can’t park with your stuff, you should boycott the
show. Who wants to leave all their precious engines in the care of
a security guard, if the show has one.

Not having a trailer, I used to load one of my engines in the
back of my truck and drive to a show. I would park in the display
area, drop my tailgate, and display a running engine in the back of
my truck. No one ever had a problem with it. I agree that it would
be a major hassle to carry tools or whatever is needed between a
parking area and a display area. When something is needed, unlock
the vehicle, get the item out, and then lock it back in the vehicle
when finished. Besides tools and spare spark plugs, I also like to
carry a jug of ice water, and some snacks in the truck. It’s
nice to have them handy when needed.

I am for parking at least in sight of my engines. I have too
much time and money invested to take my chances on their security.
I like the motorhomes being on the perimeter of the show area or
parked in rows. It is nice to have people in the area of the
engines at all times. Just my opinion, but I doubt it is the
exhibitors with regular displays that we have to worry about. I
would worry more about parts finding their way into the flea
markets and junk dealers. I enjoy having the area open without
barriers such as shown in the ‘Oz’ photo. I enjoy having
young kids coming up to talk, and usually I am willing to teach
them how to run an engine if they seem to have the maturity for it.
Also, for those of us with young children who occasionally need
their naps, it is nice to be able to put them down in the car or
truck and be able to sit in a lawn chair to keep an eye on them.
Vehicles also serve as shelter from weather and as a safe haven for
purchased goods as well, such as cameras, etc. Have fun wherever
you park!

John, you sure know how to stir up an interesting conversation.
I have several engines, but I am not ready to display them just
yet. So, I attend several shows each year and that must make me
only a spectator. It all depends on the individual circumstances of
the show. I do not think that there can be any hard and fast rule
that will fit all shows. It is obvious that many people do not want
to have to park their vehicles, motor-homes, or whatever, over in
the next county away from their display. As a spectator I do not
mind having to walk a ways from the parking to the show area. I
sometimes spend several days camping in my motorhome at a show. At
the same time, I can see the position of the exhibitor who has a
lot of effort and money tied up in his display. It would seem that
whoever is putting on the show should give some consideration to
meeting the exhibitors’ needs as much as possible. I would
suggest that if your motorhome is bigger than your display, it will
have to be parked elsewhere. This controls the 40 x 100 foot
motorhome land yacht with the one or two (figure of speech)
‘rusty boat anchor Briggs or Maytag engines.’ At one show,
one exhibitor had a rather large engine mounted on a flatbed truck.
There was no way he or anyone else would have wanted to unload this
engine for display purposes. A little common sense would do wonders
in that case. Besides, it was fun to watch the truck chassis bounce
around on the springs on each power stroke. For those who have
stated that they will never display at a show that doesn’t see
it their way exactly on the parking issue, just think about how
much fun complaining about it you won’t be able to do if you
pout and stay away. Come on guys and gals, not every show is going
to meet all your desires, so pull in your horns a little bit and
save your indignation for only the worst of the parking situations
at shows, which should really be few and far between.

I just got to jump in here, with an idea or two. Getting a
little long in the tooth, and remembering running a few of the
machines that are now ‘antiques/collectibles,’ there’s
a thing or two about shows that annoy this old gimp. If the
show’s good, I sort of forget the ouch-factor, and can wander
around for hours, but it would be nice to be able to buy something
and have a place to drop it off, instead of having to hump it back
to the parking lot, usually at least a mile round trip. It
doesn’t seem that sort of a check stand would be hard to
operate at a show, and most folks would be willing to pay a buck to
leave a hunk of iron and be able to pick it up when they leave the
show. The other thing that doesn’t seem like it would be real
hard to accommodate, given the number of tractors wanting to
parade, would be to hook up a wagon or two and operate sort of a j
itney to and from the parking lot. With this sort of ride
situation, Folks who come in land yachts with an old lawnmower,
just to be able to park in the exhibit area, just might be willing
to park elsewhere and save the extra fee to exhibit. Now, I’ll
sit back and wait for the flames about insurance and all that

Thanks for your opinion on the subject. I didn’t mean to
stir such a pot but I am enjoying this greatly. You have hit it
right on the head as far as a show-by-show situation. I would love
to see exhibitor parking at all shows with our exhibits, but as you
have said, this is not always possible. Also, as for those who say
they will not show if they cannot park right theresee you at the
next show!


Park With Display: 77 = 75% Use Public Parking: 22 = 21% No
answer: 4=4%.

Smokestak is an engine conversation bulletin board which is a
part of the series of web sites that started in 1985
as ‘Harry’s Old Engine.’ Harry Matthews is a retired
engineer and gas engine collector from Oswego, New York, now
residing in Sarasota, Florida.

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