More than 50,000 people are expected at the four-day 20th Annual Auto and Antique Winter Fest at Festival Park, said Michael Sierra, co-owner of the park.
"We've put Zephyrhills on the map as far as automotive is concerned," Sierra said Thursday.
The festival, which started Thursday and ends Sunday evening, has two major components: Half is antiques, collectibles and memorabilia, and the other half is "everything you can imagine, old and new, for cars," Sierra said.
The highlight of the event is the antique car auction today from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. About 300 vintage and luxury cars will be sold, including a 1917 Model T Ford, a 1954 white Corvette with a red interior and a 1957 Ford Fairlane two-door hard top.
Nine hundred vendors from 35 states have rented the 2,500 spaces in the swap meet. Among the items for sale are old hand-operated gas pumps, old farm machinery, Coca-Cola memorabilia and antique slot machines. The auto vendors will spotlight Mustangs, Camaros and other collector cars, as well as equipment for them.
Several rare autos will be on display, including an 1886 Benz, the first production car made, and a 1913 Pope-Hartford auto made in Hartford, Conn.
Exhibits include a flywheel and gasoline engine mechanisms that saw logs, grind corn and pump water.
A quarter-mile dirt race track will feature antique-car races "chauffeured by antique drivers and maintained by antique mechanics," Sierra said. Some of the vehicles have an open wheel design that was popular in 1915 to 1918 vintage cars. At various times, there also will be antique stock car races.
Entertainment for the four-day show is provided by Barney Barnhardt and his Dixieland Band. Almost 30 vendors will sell festival-type food such as pizza, gyros, Italian sausages, soft drinks and beer.
Parking opens at 7 a.m. and gates open at 8 a.m. each day. The show closes at dark. Admission is $8 for adults. Children accompanied by adults are admitted for free. The ticket price includes a chance to win a 1967 red Datsun convertible. A portion of ticket sales benefits Nova University Law School.
Festival Park is on U.S. 301 just south of Zephyrhills.
Barbara L. Fredricksen is arts and entertainment editor for the Times' North Suncoast editions.