Early birds get the bargains as Fall Carlisle opens | Carlisle

It all boiled down to the thrill of the hunt — the search for elusive deals on the opening day of Fall Carlisle.

Thousands of early bird shoppers flocked to the fairgrounds Wednesday to get the jump on competition at the annual car swap, corral and auction.

“It’s just the excitement of getting something before someone else gets it,” said Jeff Covell of Myersville, Maryland, who has been a regular visitor to the yearly event for about three decades.

From day one, his strategy has been to get in on a Wednesday or Thursday before the big crowds swarm the 8,100 vendor spaces. Even getting in early, there have been plenty of cases where Covell has seen a bargain on something he needed only for another person to swoop in and pay for it.

“We look for a variety of things,” said Covell, who arrived on site just 15 minutes after the gates opened at 7 a.m. In the first four hours, the hunt yielded a treasure trove of bargains including a pair of steer horns to mount on his son’s truck and a box of pinstripe auto detailing tape to customize vehicles.

David Elks of Little Washington, North Carolina, has almost as much mileage as Covell. He started coming to Fall Carlisle about 25 years ago. “It’s like an Easter egg hunt and you’re looking for the golden egg,” said Elks, who restores cars as a hobby.

Every so often Elks comes across a rare find in auto parts. Often the discovery requires a decision on the spot — make a deal with the vendor or risk someone else snatching up the opportunity.

“I’m working right now on a 1970 GTO Judge,” said Elks, who was in the process of loading two neon car signs onto an all-terrain vehicle. “One sign is a Pontiac and one is a Dodge.” He plans to hang up both in the barn where he parks his cars.

Susan Rubincan was at the fairgrounds Wednesday helping her husband, Ben, spot the parts they need for the various car restoration projects underway at their Chester County home.

“When I first married him, I hated cars. … Now I’m hooked,” said Rubincan, a Fall Carlisle visitor since about 1990. She is so into the hobby that she now has to get her husband to make the two-hour trip.

“If you don’t come here the first day, you have a harder time finding what you want because you have a lot of competition,” she said. In just a few hours, the husband and wife team tracked…

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