Editorial Features

So You Want to Have a Car Show

by | Jan 28, 2019

Finding the Perfect Location

While a cold front may have descended upon most of the United States, it’s not too early to start planning out the most important elements of your upcoming car show, cruise night, cars and coffee or concours. Each of these unique automotive events requires something different, but there are a few constants to keep in mind. In the last installment of So You Want to Have a Car Show, we discussed spreading the word about your event on social media. Today, we’re here to help you find the perfect location.

The Right Size

If you’re hosting a first year event, it can be challenging to know how many cars to expect. That said, it’s better to err on the side of too larger, rather than too small. Take a look at your local car clubs and enthusiast groups and see how many classic cars you might expect from them. Don’t be afraid to reach out to shows similar to your own to find out how many cars they had. All of this will help you to determine if you need space for one hundred cars or one thousand. 

Leave Room For Vendors

One of the most fun parts of attending a car show is checking out the vendors. You’ll want to make sure there’s plenty of room for food sellers, parts sellers and more! (We’re going to discuss vendors in another article, but this is a good place to start!) You want your vendors to be in a good location so that they feel like it’s worth their time and your attendees don’t have to hike a hundred miles to get to them. Also, be a dear, don’t put your vendors next to the Port-o-Potties. Not that that has ever happened to Car Show Safari or anything.


Which brings me to my next salient point. You’re going to want bathrooms. Ideally, inside bathrooms are best, but it isn’t always an option. That said, if you do rent out Port-o-Potties, don’t put them in direct sunlight. There’s very little more disgusting than a hot, plastic bathroom with no running water.

Make Sure There’s Shade

Full disclosure, I’m sunburn-prone. Like, slather myself in SPF 70 and still come home looking like a lobster. I’ve had to call it quits on too many car shows for my liking because there’s no respite in a black top parking lot to get out of the direct sun. Sure, you don’t always have a choice, but the more shade, the longer your visitors are going to stick around.

Feed ‘em or Weep

I once attended a Cars and Coffee event that didn’t have any coffee. In fact, we had very specifically not stopped for coffee on the way over and when we got there, found out that they hadn’t so much as picked up a box of donuts. Food is a huge part of any car show and with the ubiquity of awesome and exciting food trucks, there’s no reason not to add space for more food vendors. Along with food vendors, make sure there’s plenty of room for garbage and recycling cans and, ideally, a place to sit.

The King is in the House

Or parking lot. Or field. I’ll speak later in the series on the benefits of having live entertainment at your event, but you’ll want to start out by making sure there’s a place to put them! It’s also important that there is electricity and a way to run wiring and place speakers so that nothing is in danger of getting run over or spilled on.

Is it Walkable?

This may not be an option, but if you can find a location for your car event where people might stumble upon you, that’s great! Many car shows are located in out of the way spots and you kind of have to know about them to get there, (which is where we come in) but having a central location is a great way to get more visitors!

Chat up the Local Businesses!

If you do manage to host a downtown or local show, speak with the local business owners about coupons or deals! Your show will help bring in new customers for them, and your car owners will love getting deals on ice cream or pizza. It’s an easy way to connect to the community and ensure you get asked back in the future.

Is There Parking?

A good show doesn’t just have lots of cars on the field, it also has lots of cars in the visitor’s lot. If you’re hosting out of the way, it’s probably a little easier to park but make sure no one will get ticketed for spending too long on the street. If you’re downtown, speak with your local law enforcement officers about taking over a parking lot or two. This will ensure traffic keeps moving and everyone is happy.

Can You Cruise?

Lastly, look around your space and see if there’s room for a potential cruise event or award ceremony car display. People love to see these classics in action. It adds a little more excitement to the event, rather than just touring rows of vehicles in line. Your cruise doesn’t have to be big, but even a loop around the parking lot can really change the tone!

You probably won’t hit all the points on this list when finding the perfect event location for your show, but I hope it’ll help you scout the right one for your needs! Car Show Safari has been attending car shows across the country for decades and we’re dedicated to helping you put on the ultimate event! Start checking out the perfect location for your show today–and don’t forget to share your own hosting tips and tricks with us! And, of course, list your event with Car Show Safari!