HICKORY CORNERS, Mich. – By now most enthusiasts have heard about the Gilmore Car Museum, located between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek in western Michigan, just south of Grand Rapids. While we often visit to cover some of the many events the museum hosts each year, one of the largest that takes places on the historic 90-acre campus is the Red Barns Spectacular, a big car show and swap meet held every August.
Our roving photographer, Ford Marketing retiree and Ford Performance enthusiast Bill Cook, took to the highways this past summer to attend the 2021 edition of the Red Barns Spectacular Show at the Gilmore, and offered this report:
“I was out the door at 6:00 that Saturday for the 300-mile round trip from my home to the annual Red Barns Spectacular at the Gilmore Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan. The town is 2 square miles and its population is just 322, but it is home to one of the finest automotive museums in the U.S. The weather had been rather nasty in the several days leading up to the show, and when I hit the sack Friday night, the forecast was for rain overnight and scattered storms during the day.
“I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. on show day to check the weather to decide if I would make the trip. I pulled up my four weather apps -- and all had good news. So I got ready, packed lunch, snacks, refreshments, camera, sunblock and hit the road. It was big show, but the car count was affected a bit by the weather forecasts. Still, it was a great time. I didn’t tour the museums on this visit (it takes a good part of a day to do that) – but I recommend going when there are no special events here.”
Hosted by the Kalamazoo Antique Auto Restorers Club, the Red Barns event is split into two individual sections for show participants, and also hosts a section for the 300-plus swap meet vendors on-site. There’s a judged show field for those looking to enter their vehicle into the car show portion of the event, and a more casual Drivers Choice show field in which the car owners choose the 25 awards given out. Both are open to all things with wheels 25 years of age and older, including trailers, campers and even fire trucks.
The Gilmore Car Museum is open year-round and holds regular events. It’s dubbed as North America’s largest auto museum, with more than 400 vehicles on display and over 190,000 square feet of combined exhibit space. The Museum’s sprawling countryside campus features numerous vintage barns and other structures, including a restored and fully-functioning 1941 Silk City Diner, a recreated 1930’s Shell Station, six on-site Partner Museums, and much more. Cook spent the day at the Red Barns event and took photos of the Fords he found there. He shares a gallery of favorites with us below: Flickr Link
FORD PERFORMANCE PHOTOS / COURTESY BILL COOK