Written by Dale Woodard for the Sun Times
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 16:00
Swapping since 1964.
Like a rite of passage every winter, the Southern Alberta Antique and Classic Auto Club Early Bird Swap Meet descends upon Lethbridge to cater to everyone from car enthusiasts to collectors of antiques and collectibles.
And the event slated to run Feb. 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lethbridge Exhibition Park brings in more than just residents of the Lethbridge and the greater southern Alberta area.
“People from all over Western Canada come to it,” said treasurer Gord Dewhirst. “As far as the car stuff, there’s some different stuff for all the venues, classical and antique. It’s a good source for people who are restoring their cars.”
But the Southern Alberta Antique and Classic Auto Club Early Bird Swap caters to more than just the gear heads, featuring furniture, toys and collectables.
“It’s a lot more than just cars,” said Dewhirst. “There are a lot of antique dealers in general there.”
Though it’s a one-day event, it’s a big one with a high volume of traffic requiring lots of space.
“We take up the entire exhibition pavilion,” said Dewhirst. “It’s bigger than most shows, we get about 4,000 people.”
Now, nearly 50 years later the annual swap meet is still going strong as a must-attend event for car and antique enthusiasts alike.
“1964 was when it started,” said Dewhirst. “I think there was maybe one year that was missed, but it started out as a tailgate (event) and it’s just grown. We get about 3,000 vendors. There are people from B.C. to Manitoba, people who are looking for stuff. They come up from Montana as well.”
In nearly 50 years of operation, the Southern Alberta Antique and Classic Auto Club Early Bird Swap Meet’s reputation has grow as out-of-town — and out-of-province — collectors flock to Lethbridge for the one-day event.
“We have been told we have one of the best ones out there,” said Dewhirst. “There are crowds of people that attend a lot of swap meets and we’ve become known as one of the better ones.”
The timing of the annual swap meet has also helped.
“It’s earlier in the year and we’ve always lucked out with the weather,” said Dewhirst. “Just because it’s at the end of the (winter) season. There’s a bit of a dry spell in the spring. But it’s a good chance for everybody if they’re working on a vehicle. They can have their stuff by car season. It’s a nice break in the season.
“It’s always a good selection and a lot of vendors. It covers a lot of stuff.”
Swap stalls and car stalls are $50 apiece.
Gate admission is $2 per person. Children ages 10 and under get in at no charge. For information and registration, contact Mike Yakubowski at