HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A lot of businesses in the Midstate struggled when the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic because many businesses rely on the major events hosted in the complex.
But now, events are slowly bringing a cash flow back into Harrisburg, including the Mecum Auctions, back after three years away.
“We’re pretty excited to be back. We would have loved to be here in ’20 and ’21 but there was a little thing going on called the pandemic,” said Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Auctions.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here.
That “little thing” was holding back a ton of money without major events in Harrisburg.
“The fact that it’s open again, the fact that we’re here tonight, to do the block party, and kick off the show tomorrow and have the show run through the weekend is enormous,” said Gregg Cook, executive director of Hershey Harrisburg Sports & Events Authority.
Mecum Auctions bring people from all over the country. Local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses benefit from the large-scale event.
“I found out at the airport today they’re sold out of rental cars and I suspect that has something to do with people coming in for our event as well. So the economic impact goes way beyond selling cars and collecting sales tax on the cars we sell,” Magers said.
Mecum expects about $30 million in sales to happen at this year’s auction.
“All of our estimations are conservative, but we estimate economic impact from Mecum weekend at about $10 million. So It is one of the most significant events that passes through our market on an annual basis,” Cook said.
Get traffic alerts from the abc27 mobile app for the latest local delays and road closures
Mecum auto auctions happen all over the country, but Magers says the car culture in Pennsylvania is something special.
“Hershey and Carlisle Harrisburg, when we come to Harrisburg we just find that the enthusiasm for collector cars and the knowledge that people have of collector cars is probably greater here than any other community that we have in auction,” Magers said.
That enthusiasm is expected to bring anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 people to the Farm Show every day of the event.
“I got some cars I’m looking at for people. And I’ve got some good friends of mine that brought cars here to sell also,” said Jim Guck, visiting from New York.
“It doesn’t really matter what make, what model, what year, what color you’re looking for. It’s probably here someplace in the 1,200 cars,” said Magers.
Gates open daily at 8 a.m. Vehicles begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and at 10 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, when the auction ends.