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The cars we drive say a lot about us. If you’re planning a car show in Southwest Ohio, we’re here to help. We’ve got the tips you need to plan a car show that your vendors, car owners and car enthusiast attendees will be talking about for years!

“The Roberts Centre management & staff were one of the most professional and caring teams FreedomScene has had the pleasure of working with. Their knowledge of what we were wanting to accomplish with our festivals, layout, and process was beyond more than we could ask for. My team & I look forward to working with the Roberts Centre a lot more in hopes of calling their location FreedomScene’s home!”

 – Joseph VanWinkle / CEO of FreedomScene

Auto shows benefit and improve communities by energizing the local economy and building goodwill.                PC: Brandon Speck

Begin With a Budget

Start with this basic element. Account for every expense and budget line item. Estimate how many cars will be attending and how much money is projected to be made from attendance sales. As the car show draws closer, adjust the budget to accommodate for the correct number of cars and ticket sales.

First and foremost, budget appropriately. PC: Chase Morgan

Pre-Show Planning is a Must

Car shows are a community gathering meant to provide a fun and positive atmosphere. Attention to detail is key when you’re planning an auto show. The good news is that if you choose the right venue, you will have industry experts that help you deliver the best experience for your budget.  Food & beverage services, crowd-flow, security, parking, ticketing etc. are not topics you should tackle on your own. Some of the details that need to be vetted include:

  • Permits need to be pulled if your car show is outside. Check with local municipality and county officials to figure out the permits you need
  • Pre-registration and day of event registration procedures
  • Where to assign and place employees or volunteers
  • A check-in process for owners of cars or car manufacturers
  • Restroom facilities
  • Traffic control volunteer procedure
  • Signs for bathrooms, entries, exits and for booths
  • Volunteers to act as judges for auto show contests
  • Maps that clearly show where exhibits, vendors and restrooms are located
  • Vendors to provide food and drink or pass out free merchandise

Insure, Insure, Insure

Cars are expensive! If you’re holding an event on your own, we recommend discussing your event insurance needs with an insurance agent. Make sure you discuss insurance requirements with the event staff at private venues too.

Car Show Outside

Attention to detail is key when you’re planning a car show. PC: Brandon Speck


Of course, everyone comes to a car show to see the cars, but the ambiance and atmosphere you create will keep them coming back. Entertainment is always a part of an auto show. Whether it’s a live band playing or custom radio tracks, music is a key component of a successful auto show. Consider a partnership with a local radio station that will broadcast from your venue while promoting your auto show. Know your audience and select music and appendant entertainment that complements the genre of cars at your show.

Centrally locate your entertainment so it can be heard and seen by participants. This central spot should also be used to announce car show winners for contests.

Advertise Those Autos

Advertising an auto show is important. There are so many outlets available to get the word out about your car show. Follow this advertising avenue path:

  • Many web sites will let you advertise your auto show for free.
  • Utilize social media pages and online community calendars.
  • Get the word out to local auto clubs.
  • Advertise in the newspapers as the event draws closer.
  • Pass out flyers in the community.
  • Utilize partnerships with radio stations and television stations.

Trophy Time

If your car show is hosting a contest or giving away prizes for best cars in their classic car categories, remember to order trophies for those categories ahead of time. Make sure enough money is spent on the trophies to make winners want to proudly display them on a shelf and give them incentive to come back next year. Awarding prizes gives people an incentive to enter your event.

Hint: The naming rights to trophies can be a source of revenue and pay for the cost of the trophies.

Car Show Indoor

The cars are lined up for the contest! PC: Brandon Speck

Car Show Raffles and Auctions

Car enthusiasts love to collect memorabilia. Raffles and auctions are a great way to raise money from donations. Sell tickets that patrons can place in a pot to win donated car prizes or put up an auction tent where people can bid on merchandise or trips.

Parting Gifts: Goodie bags full of flyers, decals, coupons, key chains, and more are a nice parting gift for patrons. Consider giving all car show participants a dash plaque for being a participant as well.

Free Swag: It’s free publicity and marketing!

Venues Matter

The Roberts Centre in Wilmington, Ohio is the premier venue to fuel automotive passions and inspire show-goers of all ages. Our accessible location, accommodating layout, educated staff, and limitless amenities will make planning your car show a breeze! The Roberts Centre’s event planning and service-oriented staff can help you with all your auto show details, utilizing more than 80,000 square feet of flexible meeting space to fit your auto show needs. Our preferred tradeshow venue space is centrally located between Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus making it easily accessible to some of the largest city populations in Ohio.

Built to host events on a grand or intimate scale, Roberts Centre is ready to host your car show! Contact us at 937-283-3272 to schedule your special event today.

Car Show Dog

Your car show can be planned and accommodated at The Roberts Centre. PC: Brandon Speck

About Roberts Centre

Roberts Centre is home to the region's largest convention center, a luxurious Holiday Inn hotel, and Ralph's American Grill. The flexibility of our space, combined with our location between three major cities in Ohio, makes us the perfect venue for weddings, banquets, meetings, pet shows, and other special events.

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