Car Lover’s Nirvana Turns 40

Several times a year, it’s a familiar sight in Carlisle. More than 80 acres of cars, car parts, vendors and throngs of people. It’s a success story built over forty years.

“It is hard to believe because it really seems like it was yesterday when we started to do these shows,” said Carlisle Events co-founder Bill Miller, Jr.

The business today, known as Carlisle Events, opened humbly on rented space at the Carlisle fairgrounds in 1974. It was a place for Bill Miller and fellow car enthusiast Chip Miller to show off classic post World War Two vehicles.

“It went from us having 100 cars in auction to 500 cars the first time we did it,” said Miller. “And from there it just ballooned and we have 15-hundred cars in the Car Corral and sell out each year.”

That shared love of cars ended tragically when Chip Miller died in 2004. Although Bill and Chip were not related, many people assumed they were because they acted like brothers. Chip’s son Lance stepped into his dad’s role with Carlisle Events and clicked well with Bill. And, Bill’s son is learning the ropes to allow him to eventually take over his dad’s duties. Another generation of buddies who share a name and a passion for classic cars.

In addition to the popular spring and fall shows, a summer Corvette gathering draws huge crowds, along with a sportsman show and an expanded schedule of car auctions.

“We often have four or five times the population of Carlisle right here on the fair grounds,” said Miller.

“About ten years ago they did a study and they figured our shows brought about 92-million dollars into the area.”

And beyond its Cumberland county roots, Carlisle Events also hosts shows and productions in Florida, Allentown and Bloomsburg

Miller says planning and hosting the events is a year-round job, but you won’t hear him complain.

“You know, when you have a job where you work in your hobby, it’s not a job,” said Miller, walking and inspecting the nearly empty pre-show fairgrounds. “It’s really been a treat to do what we have done for 40 years.”

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