A row of cars and people are shown on a sunny day at a car meet.

Car Shows are Back!

Unless you’ve been living off the grid in a pretty extreme way, you already know just how much the COVID pandemic has messed up the world in the last [checks notes] 18 months!? While I enjoy the existential crisis caused by this reminder of how long things have been going so badly, let’s focus on the positive side of things. The pandemic really messed with everyone last year, and other than the horrifying loss of life, the biggest impact it had was on our social lives and the way that we’re able to connect with each other.

The good news, however, is that things are moving in the right direction, thanks in large part to the proliferation of vaccines that have gotten this whole thing under control. Why am I telling you all of this stuff that you probably already know? Because alongside various stores, restaurants, and events opening back up this summer, I also see the glorious return of that greatest of American traditions: the car show! And I’m not talking about the big industry events where they show off concepts and supercars you’ll never get to drive – I mean small, local car shows with classic vehicles and people getting together to have some fun.

What Events Are Coming Back?

Right now, I’m seeing all kinds of different car shows being scheduled across the US with a wide range of formats and sizes. From outdoor events that include categories for different types of vehicles plus other activities to larger indoor/outdoor car shows that include not only collectors but industry representatives. It looks like if there’s a car show that has been historically available in your area, then there’s a good chance that it’s back. I don’t have the time to check on every car show this summer – there are lots of them – but I see just about everything from local small-town events to larger shows in big cities like Chicago.

A close up shows a headlight and people at a car meet.

Is It Safe to Attend a Car Show?

With things starting to open up again this summer, there are still plenty of people concerned about whether going to such a gathering is actually safe. First off, I’m absolutely not a healthcare professional, so this isn’t professional medical advice – I’m a person writing on an automotive blog, so seriously, don’t take medical advice from me. That being said, as long as you use some common sense and you’ve taken the proper precautions, then going to a car show should be relatively safe.

For starters, get vaccinated if you haven’t already – listen to your healthcare provider about whether you need a second shot (depends on the vaccine) and how long it takes for you to be safe. Most of the vaccines require a couple of weeks after the shot to take full effect, so give yourself enough time before going to a show. This is the simplest (it’s free!) and most effective way you can protect yourself and the people you care about, so just do the thing.

Otherwise, be cautious and continue to take care of yourself while at big public events like car shows. Bring a mask or two along just in case and if you feel like wearing one, then wear one. Wash your hands or use a good hand sanitizer on them after touching things in public and, perhaps most importantly, don’t touch your face. Prior to the pandemic, big public events like car shows were already great places to get a cold or flu from other people, so even if you’re not worried about COVID, it still makes sense to keep yourself safe and healthy.

How Can I Find a Car Show in My Area?

There are a couple of good ways to find a car show near you this year, though if you’ve been to one in your area in the past, then there’s a good chance it’s coming back. One of the simplest things you can do is search “car show” with the name of your city or state, and this will typically bring up numerous results – again, there are a lot of these shows every year. If you’re interested in attending a car show, then you should start looking sooner rather than later because summer is when a lot of these events go on.

Another great way to find out about car shows in your area is to search for or join a car club, especially if you’re interested in not just attending a show but also participating in one. A lot of car shows are hosted, sponsored, or endorsed by local or state car clubs. There are numerous clubs and organizations out there to suit pretty much every need and interest, including groups dedicated to hitting the trail and going off-road, working on and appreciating classic cars, and anything else you can imagine. Joining this type of club, or at least being on their mailing list, is a great way to find out about all the automotive events in your neck of the woods.

A close up shows a row of classic cars.

Do I Need a Classic Car to Attend?

Not at all. In fact, for most car shows, you don’t need anything to attend other than the cost of a ticket, if there’s an admission fee. A lot of these shows are completely free of charge, and they welcome anyone and everyone with an interest in the automotive world to show up. Some shows do have an admission fee, but it’s almost always very inexpensive, and there are typically discounts for children, seniors, and veterans.

If you’re interested in being part of a car show, however, then you’ll probably need a certain type of vehicle. Some shows focus on classic cars, while others are all about aftermarket modifications or other aspects of the industry. This will really depend on what type of show you have in your area and what you want to be a part of at it. Some shows will have contests with different categories where a winner each year is chosen; a lot of these shows have so many categories available that there really is something for pretty much everyone.

What You Should Expect at a Car Show

First and foremost, you should expect to have a lot of fun and see a wide range of fantastic vehicles from local owners in your area. If you’re at all interested in the local automotive scene in your city or state, then going to car shows is a great way to meet people and find others who share your interests. Depending on the nature of the show you attend, you could see some amazing classic vehicles, some mind-blowing custom jobs, or even an array of military or professional vehicles on display.

A lot of car shows also have other activities that are part of the event, depending on the organization that is hosting it and what they have offered in the past. From charity fundraisers, live concerts and performances, to 5K walk/run events, there are tons of different things that you’ll find at car shows across this country. A lot of them will have food trucks or stalls set up, and they can be simple morning affairs that last four or five hours or all day – even all weekend. There are shows that you can enjoy for several days and still not see everything. The one thing that they all have in common is a love for the auto industry and hobby, plus a big group of people who are ready to have some fun.