Building Ties | Car Show History | Carlisle History |
Revitalizing Downtown
| Interview with Matthew Pisano |
Interview with Diane Vaughn 

 And I feel that if Carlisle Events were to get involved with downtown and with the main strip here and do events like the parade and things like that, and further events with their car shows, and get those people to venture towards the downtown area, I think that would attract them much more,” said Matthew Pisano.

Just less then a mile away from downtown lies the Carlisle Fairgrounds, which is home to some of the countries most famous car shows. Men, women, and children from all over the world travel to Carlisle each year for the events. Carlisle Events has hosted car shows at the Fairgrounds since 1974. The events annually attract over 500,000 people.[1] Researching from the years 1981-2007, I developed an understanding of the ways in which this yearly flow of people from the events effects the businesses of the downtown area. Two oral histories were conducted in order to gain a first hand perspective on the connections between the downtown economy and the car shows. In the first of the two, Matthew Pisano, owner of Matty’s Kitchen, gave insight into the life of a small business owner trying to prosper in the downtown area. The second oral history was a perspective from the other side of the issue. Diane Vaughn, Director of Customer Relations at Carlisle Events, discussed the events at the fairgrounds and the ways to support the downtown economy.

As citizens of Carlisle, Dickinson College students, tourists, and travelers drive through the downtown area, they commonly see a significant number of vacant stores.

Vacant Spaces in Downtown Carlisle: (as of December 2, 2007)

  • 118 North Hanover
  • 150 North Hanover
  • 1 South Hanover
  • 13 South Hanover
  • 5 North Hanover
  • 35 South Hanover (formerly Seras Cleaners)
  • 117 West High Street
  • 31 North Hanover (former cafe and gallery)
  • 109 North Hanover (formerly Salamandras)
  • 37 South Hanover

[Information researched at Downtown Carlisle Association homepage]

In an era of “big-box” stores, such as Wal-mart, small businesses in towns such as Carlisle struggle to compete with low prices. The following three research projects/web pages use archival research of newspapers and other information on Carlisle Events, partnered with two oral histories to reveal the issues of downtown and possible solutions to reviving the economy. Topic one covers the history of Carlisle Events. Topic two covers the history of Carlisle and the struggles of the downtown economy, while incorporating the opinions of local business owner Matthew Pisano. Topic three covers the struggles of the downtown economy, while presenting multiple proposals for economic revitalization.


[1] Carlisle Events History, 2007.