The Evolution of Pate Swap Meet
Pate Swap Meet was the idea of several forward-thinking antique car enthusiasts in Texas in 1971. That year and 1972 saw the idea blossom into a full-blown swap meet. At first, they didn't even have a place to hold it. A. M. “Aggie” Pate stepped forward and offered 180 acres to the fledging association for as long as they wanted it. Pate, long a car enthusiast himself, had erected a museum on the land about 2.5 miles out of Cresson, Texas, which was southwest of Fort Worth.
The association became known as the South Central Swap Meet Association and was made up of car clubs all over Texas and one club just over the border in Arkansas. At an organizational meeting in Austin in February of 1972, it was decided that the very first swap meet would be held on the grounds of the Pate Museum on April 27, 28, and 29, 1973. The swap meet was not called Pate yet. A lot of people simply called it “Cresson” because of its proximity to the town, which was two and one-half miles away.
Barney Calvert, who was one of the original founders, became the first President of the association. Barney is still active today in the New Braunfels Swap Meet. Association member clubs divided the duties required to manage the swap meet and it flourished, growing every year. There were problems, mostly associated with the unpredictable Texas weather. You never knew how to dress, so you brought clothes for every type of weather that might be encountered. Mud was a given if it rained, and, if it didn't, the choking dust became unbearable at times.
When Aggie Pate died in 1988, the swap meet was renamed The Pate Swap Meet in his honor. In 1996, the association was notified that the Pate family was selling the land, and the swap meet would have to find a new home. An exhaustive search resulted in the move in 1998 to the Texas Motor Speedway, just north of Fort Worth. A couple of different locations within the Speedway were tried until the west parking lot became the permanent site. All paved, already marked off into spaces, the new site began to attract some of the vendors that were unhappy with the move from Cresson, and the inside-outside locations that were tried at the Speedway first.
Today, Pate is still growing. Many of the problems of the past have been solved, and vendors and visitors alike flock to the yearly attraction. There are still sixteen clubs involved in the execution of the swap meet, and some of the original founders are still associated today.