Bloomington Corvette Show

Geoff Coenen

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 17, 2009
Messages
374
Location
Stratford CT
Yesterday they sent me an email to sign up for a vendor spot. Tonight they emailed a link to the write up at
https://www.corvetteblogger.com/2021/03/02/registration-for-bloomington-gold-is-now-open/

In the late 70 through the 90’s we attended Bloomington religiously, thereafter sporadically. Leave on Tuesday & drove nearly 1000 miles, usually non-stop except for gas & fast food. Then crashed Wednesday in the Holiday Inn across the street from the McLean County (?) Fair Grounds. Those were the days. Set up late Wednesday night or Thursday & sold from then thru Sunday closing. It was packed with enthusiasts that literally stood 2-3 deep at times waving green money above their heads at us to be waited on next. I am not making this up & certainly not complaining.

Exhausting. However at night the locals with all manner of souped up hot rods would invade the rear Holiday Inn parking lot to show off. None other than Terry Michaelis would be pouring a gallon jug of Bleach for the impromptu drag races in that rear lot, while 3-4 of the local Police actually observed standing on the 1 story motel roof & did not intervene. Can you say – amazing & wild.

Today the Bloomington show is only Friday & Saturday in the Indianapolis Colts stadium. And only $27.50 for one day & $53.25 for two whole days. Can you say value? Back then it was Corvette only; in St. Charles, IL other car Brands were even being judged as Survivors – on Sunday only. Today others are still involved also. Just like the NCRS now judges blowers, wheelie bars, flames, etc because the purists have withered & departed …. Amen.

After Bloomington first departed Bloomington, IL and moved to Springfield, IL. we only went once That was a dud. All the different features – the swap, the judging, the Corvette for sale corral & special collection were literally spread far apart. That began the era of the transient Bloomington show & it has not gotten better in my view.

In 1994 we sold our HiCube & long body van. The days of dragging thousands of pounds of Corvette parts from CT to IL, IN, OH, PA, VA, TX, TN, FL, etc were over as the internet bloomed.

In the early 2000’s we went twice to St. Charles. IL version of the Bloomington show at a private golf course. Started taking our motor home to basically give away 2 pallets of catalogs. We only get 8 miles/gal and the few parts we sold did not even cover the cost of diesel that was much cheaper back then. By that time these shows were already a social event with the late model Gucci loafers Gold chain crowd. Half expected to see a Rolls Royce with a fellow asking if we had any Grey Poupon Mustard. The plethora of C5’s having their original exhaust systems replaced with on site purchased Borla, Billy Boat or Billy Bobbie Skeeter loud exhaust systems was a sight & was an indication of the future. Thereafter lots of overpriced short lived cheap Taiwanese bling bling took center stage. I think we last went in 2004 ??

From then on we only went to Corvette Carlisle 600+ miles round trip and even stopped that in 2009 (?). My wife said I was getting too old for the labor involved. I had to bring pre-cut sections of 6x6’s 4x4’s, 2x10’s & 2x4’s just to build ramps to prop up the coach’s 4 tandem rear wheels & level it on the hill alongside the main building with the showers & Pishadoon.

Found out the first year without leveling, the hydraulic jacks could not extend enough & you are not supposed to hang the wheels off the ground using the jacks. If it wasn’t level, the refrigerator would not work & keep the cases of Heineken I brought to soothe the beastly hot August friends & customers. Plus the toilet was iffy. Plus it’s hard to sleep on a rather step incline especially when the early birds wake us up before dawn searching bargains. And our dog Sam couldn’t sleep as well also. I asked Chip Miller’s (RIP) son for a level spot but got nowhere with his staff. I will admit I miss going & will attend again – but not on the hill - maybe in the VFW parking lot field with that old Sherman Tank.

My wife says the Corvette shows today are a social rock concert for old people. She’s right. Honestly I could recall crazy things that happened at different events till I put you to sleep. Any of you folk remember the heyday of Corvette swap meets?
 

redvetracr

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 23, 2008
Messages
1,589
Location
midwestern USA
I vended at Bloomington St Charles the first three years, the first year in one space I sold maybe $5500, year two in two spaces I sold maybe $3500 and finally the third year in three spaces (and my daughter in tow) I sold maybe $2200, the third year is when we took a #351 bare block stamped correctly for a 67 427/435, guys would walk buy and ask my daughter "how much?" she would say "six"...six hundred????? and she would just smile, I sold that block to a guy named Hedges in Arkansas for $6000, after that I saw the writing on the wall and quit vending, thanks to people like Joe Seputis (RIP) from Vetteran Automotive, Paul from VanSteel and Kenny at Lonestar I was able to snag a free pass the remaining years, the only person to make money was Dana Mecum who owned it and found a sucker. the swap meet is dead thanks to ebay and the internet and now with Covid you can bury it, there was a swap meet at the Lake County Il fairgrounds for years "Skips", the guy died, they sold the swap meet and it went bust, Al Fierke tried to revive it but that failed as well, same with the Corvette swap meet in Milwaukee, long gone, about the only one left is Madison classics in Jefferson Wi and Elkhorn Wi, both mostly junk and not worth the price of admission....funny thing I have noticed at CF speaking of swap meets, Lance Miller Carlisle promotions advertises but is NOT a CF supporting vendor...interesting I thought, how does he get away with that?
 

69427

The Artist formerly known as Turbo84
Joined
Mar 30, 2008
Messages
2,942
Location
Clinging to my guns and religion in KCMO.
Used to go to Bloomington every June(?) in the 80s and 90s. Just for the swap meet. Always enjoyed it. Went a couple times when they moved to Springfield, but it was different, and not the same fun or atmosphere. IIRC, I went to St.Charles once, and then no more. Not worth the drive.

I enjoy the convenience of ebay et al during the off seasons, but shopping there is a shallow experience compared to a large swap meet. I lived in Orlando briefly a few years back, and used to go to the Thanksgiving weekend Daytona swap meet. Loved it, and it's about the only thing I miss about Florida.

I'm back in the midwest again, and decent swap meets are damn hard to find.
 
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