The Rhinebeck Car Show: 
Hot Rods, Swap Meet Treasures, and Down-Right Fun People 

The annual Rhinebeck Car Show - hosted by the Hudson River Valley Association of Antique Autos at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY- first weekend in May - is one of the largest Classic Car Shows in the North East!

2016: Saturday May, 7rd - Sunday May, 8th. 8:00am-5:00pm. 

You'll find swarms of car enthusiasts, gear heads, and swap-meet junkies trading classic cars and other awesome memorabilia!

The Break Down

It's an honor to win at this event. Professional judges here are stricter than at typical parking lot shows. And, it's so large.

Imagine 15,000 people and 1700 competing cars spread out across huge fields at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Indeed, a far cry from their beginnings at the Rhinebeck Ford parking lot over 40 years ago.

Cars are classified by decade. So, in one section you’ll have the early century Ford Model T’s and in another you’ll have cars from the 1930s, 40s, and so on.

Popular classes like Mustang and Corvettes have sections all to themselves.

There are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners for each class. To keep things fair, the winners from the previous year are left out of the competition, and are invited to show off their car in the winner’s circle.

Rhinebeck Swap Meet & Car Coral

Almost half of the fairgrounds are dedicated to the huge swap-meet where roughly 1000 vendors sell just about everything under the sun.

Old license plates, antique tail lights, stained glass, gas station memorabilia, and even motorcyles are sold here.

I still have the original Pilsbury Doughboy doll, and baby-moon hubcap that I bought on my first visit to the Rhinebeck Car Show.

Anyway, cars are officially bought and sold at the Car Coral. Here you will meet with car owners, or find an attached phone number so you can call and make a deal.

If you bring your sweet ride to the Rhinebeck Car Show Car Coral with a sale in mind, it will cost $50 for a stable; and that can only be purchased in person on the weekend of the event. It's first come, first serve with about 500 spaces available.

Watch Video: the Rhinebeck Car Show

Rhinebeck Antique Car Show from michael lupo on Vimeo.

Impressions of the Rhinebeck Car Show

It was my first time back at the show with my father since 1993, when I was a mere lad. He goes pretty much every year. So I know I'm in good company.

We started out (dad, Trish, and me) in the huge swap-meet and spent about an hour browsing the aisles of tables, tents, and displays with varying interest.

Some displays were junked parts pulled from the forests of the Hudson Valley. Others were gleaming with new rims and tires - And more still outfitted with tools, CD’s, patriotic flags, and T-shirts.

We crossed through a row of trees and found a sunny field my father had never seen before. “New Territory!” he exclaimed and ventured forth. Trish rolls her eyes.

Here the canned sound of an acoustic guitar pulled me in the opposite direction. And I got lost in conversation with music vendor, Tom Randel from Bainbridge, NY.

His effortless salesmanship and rare collections of bluegrass, country, and oldies made it a breeze; and I purchased a 4 CD box-set of Hank Williams recordings.

About 15 minutes later we all rendezvoused, and Trish was holding a nifty wire brush pipe cleaner. “My drain is slow, so I figured I’d give it a try!” She said.

Now it was time for the main attraction.

The winners circle was first in order.

Highlights here included a jet black 1970 GTO, and a ruby red Cadillac which nearly had a man in tears (see video).

I ran into Dan Lumb next to a yellow submarine on a trailer. Dan has helped organize the event with Joe Doyle for over 42 years.

He explained the lay of the land and how proceeds from the event benefited local car clubs, going back into various Hudson Valley car shows.

I met a few more interesting people as I scurried around the Dutchess County Fairgrounds enjoying the swirling aromas of zeppole (fried dough with powdered sugar.)

Take, for example, the family dressed in period costume, set up next to their antique hot-rod like a living museum. Or the older gentleman sitting next to his immaculate '59 Cadillac Coupe Deville telling stories to whomever stopped to admire it.

"We're gon' drive it cross country next year," he said to me as I marveled at it's massive wings and jet blast tail lights. "Really?" I asked. "Ha! Not a chance in hell. We just got done rebuilding it!"

And that about sums up the people at the Rhinebeck Car Show.

For some, like me, it's a chance to be around the finest machines America has ever built. For others, it's the day to finally pull off the car cover, lift the garage door, and turn heads on the Taconic Parkway...

More Hudson Valley Classic Car Shows

Don't feel like going to another mediocre cruise night in the McDonalds parking lot? Good news! There's plenty more top notch Classic Car Shows just like the Rhinebeck Car Show in the Valley to check out!

*Thank You Dan Kilpatrick and Herb Lorenz for producing fantastic classic car car shows and your dedication to the antique auto scene in the Hudson Valley!

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