BRISTOL- With trinkets and treasures aplenty, the Connecticut Street Rod Associationâ€™s 29th annual Fall Swap Meet was full of characters Sunday.
The event was held in the parking area of Lake Compounce, now closed for the season.
Perched inside a custom red Chevy pickup wearing a top hat was Chuck Smith, one of 500-plus vendors selling goods. Dotted on the ground in front of the Naugatuck resident were tool boxes of all types, lids open to reveal gizmos of various varieties.
â€śYou see it, we got it. You break it, you bought it. You donâ€™t see it, we can get it. How may I help you today?â€ť Smith greeted browsers to his booth, quoting a line from â€śThe Cosby Show.â€ť
â€śPeople here can make stuff out of nothing,â€ť he said, peering around at the work-booted crowds strolling by. â€śThe proper tool helps with every job.â€ť
A few rows over was Paul Melluzzo, organizing items in his booth while keeping an eye on eyes in the crowd, looking over his things. A few people stopped to check out a 1994 Yamaha 125 motorcycle designed for trail-riding, more commonly known as a dirt bike.
â€śI canâ€™t complain,â€ť the Durham resident said. â€śAnytime you sell something itâ€™s always worth it.â€ť
People from all across the state came to the CSRAâ€™s swap meet, most yearly sellers and shoppers, or both.
â€śIâ€™d say about 90 percent of the people here are car-oriented,â€ť Chairman Bobby Kesilewski explained. â€śTheyâ€™re here to buy parts. A lot of the stuff youâ€™ll come across you canâ€™t find in stores anymore.â€ť
Old, well-oiled Snap-On tools, for example. A rusted-out 1964 Dodge Dart. Records, a welding machine, chainsaws, catalytic converters.
â€śItâ€™s a great place to just hang out for the day,â€ť Bristol resident Michael Krompegal pointed out.
The owner of Nova Construction in Bristol has been coming to swap meets almost 20 years.
â€śI bought a few things today,â€ť Krompegal added. â€śSome tools. Theyâ€™re cheaper here. You can bargain.â€ť
One of the first booths in the lineup was run by the Silver City Quarter Midget Club from Meriden. Although members had several of their pint-sized auto racing vehicles on hand, they werenâ€™t up for sale.
â€śOur guys help the CSRA park their hot rods,â€ť Elizabeth Smith said. â€śThey give us a booth and it helps us get our name out there.â€ť
Mark Gorneault and his son Joel come every year. Father and son had a variety of antiques for sale Sunday.
â€śWe enjoy the variety found here,â€ť Mark said. â€śAnd the atmosphere,â€ť Joel added.
Across the row, siblings Autumn and Justin Loper, 10 and 16, joined their 28-year-old step-brother Thomas Crawford selling stuff the group brought from the home they share in Naugatuck.
â€śBesides the money, weâ€™re here to get rid of a lot today,â€ť Crawford said. â€śWeâ€™re running out of space in our house. Weâ€™re trying to downsize substantially.â€ť
In addition to toys and tools for sale they offered passers-by chips and soda for $1 each.
The CSRA also hosts a Spring Swap Meet on the grounds. April 28, 2019, will mark the clubâ€™s 50th annual gathering.
â€śWe always try to host a first-class event,â€ť Treasurer Dennis Dagliere said.
About 4,000 visitors made their way around the dusty lot Sunday, many with specific parts, tools or wheels in mind. From 6 a.m. when the gates opened, the sunshine was as abundant as the sales.
â€śItâ€™s going wonderful today,â€ť Vice President Anthony Perrone said. â€śThe weatherâ€™s been cooperative and weâ€™ve had a fantastic turnout so far.â€ť
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.