For those interested in classic cars, a trip to Syracuse may be in order. This weekend, the Central New York Car Club Association is hosting its annual Syracuse Nationals car show at the New York State Fairgrounds.

Bob O’Conner, the director of the Syracuse Nationals, says this year’s event is going to be the biggest it’s ever been. Last year, the entire 375-acre fairgrounds complex was used, drawing more than 7,000 show cars from 40 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces.

“Every year we get more and more cars and more and more spectators,” O’Conner said. “We have people coming in from New Zealand, from England, Australia. They’re coming to be spectators and some are coming to share their skills.

Although it has already earned the moniker of the largest three-day car show in the Northeast, the group is looking to set records again this year, as expectations have risen to new heights.

“It’s much more than a car show,” O’Conner said. “It’s an entertainment event. We have things going on for the kids all day long, we have one building called “Women’s World,” dedicated just for the ladies, we have bands playing all though the weekend.”

This year’s three-day extravaganza features more than 300 parts vendors, a swap meet, tech seminars and a popular charity auction known affectionately as “Artie’s Party.”

“This gentleman’s name is Art Schilling, he’s a pin-striper from Myrtle Beach. He’s organized a thing called Artie’s Party, and he’s invited all his buddies from basically all over the world to come in and have a great time, pin stripe things and air brush items like golf carts, antique gas pumps, trash cans, mailboxes and other panels and things that they auction off all weekend long.”

The money raised is then donated to a local charity called McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Site, which raises money for abused children.

In addition to all of the amazing cars on show, the Syracuse Nationals will be graced by the likes of John Schneider and Catherine Bach, who played the original Bo and Daisy Duke on the hit TV show, “The Dukes of Hazard.” Candy Clark, who was in the movie “American Graffiti”, will also be available to meet with fans.

O’Conner says others making an appearance at the Nationals include members of Petty’s Garage, who will be showing off some of their Muscle Car creations to the public.

When one isn’t looking at vehicles, there are still plenty of things to do. Seventeen different bands are playing on three different stages. Each night, fireworks will light up the night sky above the fairgrounds.

Other events throughout the weekend include V8 Mini Tractor Pulls, Lawn Mower Races and flame throwing cars.

But, the most important aspect of this weekend’s Syracuse Nationals car show is that local charities are seeing some of the money raised during the show. Artie’s Party alone has raised thousands of dollars for the McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Site in Syracuse.


O’Conner says to date, the amount of money that has been donated is remarkable.

“The grand total over the twelve year period, through last year’s show, was just over $518,000 has gone to charity from the event,” O’Conner said. “When we first started with that, we said a charitable element has got to be an important part of the event.”

This year’s show runs from Friday until Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, the gates are open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tickets to this must-see event are $17 for adults and $8 for children, with free parking.

And, for those who would like to show their car, but missed the model year cut, the Nationals are holding American Muscle Sunday.

“We’re going to allow any year American made muscle car on the grounds on Sunday for a fee of $35,” O’Conner said. “It’s basically a buck more than buying two spectator tickets at the front gate.”

O’Conner says his group is already planning for next year and that they are always raising the bar. Let’s just hope there’s enough room.


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