Jefferson Springs 2015 Season

In the upper Midwest, Madison Classics’ Spring Jefferson Car Show and Auto Swap Meet in Jefferson, Wis., starts off the annual car show and swap meet season. If the 2015 Spring Jefferson meet held April 24-26 is a bellwether for the hobby in this part of the country, 2015 is off to a great start thanks to the “little guy.”

“We were up about somewhere about 350 spaces,” said Gary Esse, founder of Madison Classics, which hosts the event. “I think that Jefferson is a garage cleaner’s swap meet and I think there were a lot of people there this time that were selling what they had left. I think it is healthy for a swap meet to have a bunch of the ‘little guys’ selling their stuff.”

Thanks to those hobbyists cleaning out their garages, Spring Jefferson filled about 3,800 swap meet spaces on the grounds and inside the buildings of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Jefferson, Wis. Esse said part of the meet’s success is also offering a variety of swap meet space sizes, which range from 10x20-feet to 10x50-feet.

An estimated 25,000 people attended Spring Jefferson as spectators, Esse said, and along with vendors, they contributed to the event’s success. He added that most of the spectators come from the Upper Midwest, where Madison Classics concentrates its marketing efforts.

“The vendors did OK,” Esse said. “I talked to quite a few and they did well. Sunday was a surprise for them – they did well.”

Indeed, many spectators were seen carrying loads of parts in their arms and on two-wheel trucks during the show, and vendors we spoke to were happy with their sales. Sunday’s surprisingly good sales were aided by a good weather forecast and the proximity of spectators to Jefferson, Esse said. Milwaukee, Madison and even Chicago are a relatively short drive to Jefferson.

“I think the reason Sunday is still good at Jefferson is that most of the people are within 50 miles of here, so they can be here in a little less than an hour. It’s just easy — everyone is right here.”

Good weather also helped the show area of this year’s Spring Jefferson, which featured Pontiac. There, GTO models ruled the roost, but there was a variety of other Ponchos, including Tri-Power “Wide Track” Pontiacs and even a rare 1957 Bonneville convertible. All makes and models are welcomed to the car show, which helped filled the field to the brim.

In addition to the swap meet and car show, a giant car corral is a hallmark of Spring Jefferson. As in the past, the offerings there included many postwar cars, but a few prewar gems could be found in the car corral and even among the swap spaces. 

Madison Classics has two more big events in Wisconsin this show season: Summer Elkhorn Swap Meet and Car Show, to be held Aug. 1-2 at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, and the Fall Jefferson Car Show and Auto Swap Meet, to be held Sept. 25-27 back at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Learn more at or call 608-244-8416.

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