Saturday, August 10, 2013

Ararat Shriners continue Kansas City swap meet tradition at the Antique Fairgrounds

For as long as I’ve lived in the Kansas City area, there has been a tradition of annual automotive swap meets, and the biggest ones are usually hosted by the Ararat Shriners.  They have been held everywhere from the Crown Center parking garages, to the Woodlands, to Worlds of Fun.  There were two such events this year, and the last one was at their new location in the Antique Show Grounds in Lathrop, Mo.  This venue is a little out of the way (especially with the road construction on I-35 north of Liberty—ugh!), but once you get there, the trip is worth it.

We go to a lot of antique malls and estate sales, and all I’m ever really looking for is car stuff.  Nine times out of ten, I don’t find anything.  But here, everything was car stuff.  Acres of car stuff.  And it was all set within this neat fairgrounds that is maintained by the Lathrop Antique Club.  Even if the swap meet wasn’t going on, there are all kinds of interesting old trucks, tractors, and farm implements.  They even have buildings like vintage gas stations, garages, and churches.  Their website says they have a flea market and bingo games.  They’ve got a lot of history going on here.

You find some interesting parts out there.  These are wire wheel covers that would have been offered as an accessory on a ’53 Oldsmobile.  Aftermarket supplier A.S. Campbell and Co. made this style for Buicks, Cadillacs, and Oldsmobiles, but they also made “simulated wire wheels” for Packards, Nashes, and others.  Wire wheels were obviously available since the beginning of time, but something like this was a pretty new concept.  I doubt I’d choose them over a nice set of Fiesta spinners if I had a ’53 Olds, but they are an unusual thing to see nonetheless.

Here’s a 1971 Buick Electra coupe that was for sale in the car corral.  This was an exceptionally nice car with only 53,000 miles on the clock.  It didn’t even seem to be rusty under the rear corners of the vinyl top, which is a typical problem even on well-maintained cars of this era.  Of course, there is no new car that you could buy that could ever give you fatigue-free cruising like this car.  You could have a long commute to work, and fell like you just took a nap when you got there.  Unfortunately, that 455 under the hood might force you to get a second job to pay for the gas. 

Oscar Mayer made various Wienermobile bank promotional models since the 1950s.  They were all roughly 1/25-scale, and all looked more or less like this one.  The early ones were built just like an AMT promotional model, with similar chassis and friction motor designs, and a pop-out plastic driver.  This one here was made in the late 1980s, and reflects what the famous hot dog car looked like at the time.  They’re a pretty fun collectable; I mean, who doesn’t like the Wienermobile?!

There were a few project cars to be had as well.  This ’67 Chevelle convertible seemed to draw quite a bit of attention.  It had a lot going for it—big block under the hood, four speed, console tach, rally wheels, and Marina Blue paint.  The bodywork left something to be desired, though, and it was missing quite a few parts.  But this is a desirable car in the most sought-after body style, so you can bet that someone will work out all the issues and have it back on the road in no time.

I didn’t quite get 200 pictures, but I came close.  I tried to catch things that I thought would be of interest.  Check them out in the slideshow below, or click this link for a better version.


  1. Good job Craig. Beautiful August day in the mid west for this event. The Shriners need to break down and spend some money advertising. I know they do a great job of helping kids, but they've shot themselves in the foot so many times after the Worlds of Fun fiasco and continued to destroy the momentum they had going at the Woodlands. You know what's going to happen when a Swap Meet has more vendors than buyers. NOTHING. The I-35 mess in Liberty puts everybody in a bad mood but that's just part of traveling. I've never seen "Customers" Vendors treated like many of these Shriners treated them. It's time for a big change of attitude and promotion for this event to ever be a success again. My opinion.

  2. Yep.. never be like the woodlands again.. kinda sad

  3. There are things I like and things I don't. I actually do like this location, although it is a bit of a trip from Kansas City. This is a neat fairgrounds. I think they're a little too organized on their parking control; most people can figure out how to get in and out of a parking lot on a moderately traveled road without having a director tell you where you can't go. With less vendors, it probably could have been less spread out--bunch them up a bit so you don't have to walk as far. But I'm still very happy that the Shriners continue to do this event. I think overall they do a good job with it--you can tell that a lot of effort and planning goes into this.

  4. I live in Olathe and attended the Shriner swap meet in Lathrop in April. The main lot was full and we had to park in a school lot miles away and take a shuttle back to the swap meet. Later that afternoon, a buddy purchased a set of tires and went to get his truck to load them up. Even though we had moved the tires to one of the access roads, the Shriners would not allow him to drive in to pick them up and we had to carry to out to the parking lot. At the Woodlands and even at the auto auction location in Lee's Summit we could always drive in to pick up large items. Personally, I do hot like the Lathrop location. The long drive, not enough parking and not being able to pick up your stuff has really put a damper on what used to be a great swap meet. Because of this, I stayed home in August and enjoyed a day driving around in my '71 Dodge Demon 340.

  5. I think I'll have to agree with Dale Wilch. I knew nothing about this at all. Better advertising is the key. There are a lot of small swap meets that the little guy like myself never hears about. Is there some type of list that i need to be on???

  6. I went to the 2016 Spring Shriners Swap Meet and its painfully obvious this swap meet is on life support and will soon pass to the Great Swap Meets of the Past. My observation is this is due to the NASTY NASTY attitude of the workers. I personally have seen numerous examples of the NASTY NASTY attitudes. The vendors are the reason you're able to have a swap meet year after year and if you don't bend over backwards to accommodate the vendors - THEY WONT COME BACK!!!!! And - guess what - they've not come back!!! This spring -. I was at the Swap Meet for less than an hour. It took me longer to drive there. So SHRINERS - you better improve your attitudes and do EVERYTHING you can to accommodate and help the vendors - for example - don't force a vendor that's already set up to move all his parts because his truck is sticking out of his "space" by about a foot. No big deal!!! I wish you luck but, don't expect much - your attitudes are too nasty to change easily. Mike