In 1966 the Modesto Model A’s Club in conjunction with the Horseless Carriage Club kicked off the first Swap Meet, which was held in the McHenry Village parking lot. The meet drew approximately 6 vendors. The following year the Swap Meet moved to its current location at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. One of the exhibit buildings was rented and filled to capacity with vendors.
Over the next three years the Swap Meet attracted more vendors and buyers and expanded into two buildings and facilitated many outdoor spaces. A raffle was started to attract more vendors and buyers. Prizes ranged from a fully balanced engine to whitewall tires.
In 1972 the Swap Meet became a two day event and by 1976 there were 558 vendors and several food outlets, which took up the entire area of Zone 1. Participating families started a tradition of bringing 2 homemade pies for each day of the meet.
In 1980 vendors were allowed to pre-register spaces. There were specific areas designated for selling cars and those selling parts and other memorabilia. By 1982 there were 1,220 vendor spaces, 430 spaces specifically for car sales.
By 1983 the vendors filled zone 1 and 2 and the Polo Grounds was used for buyer parking. By 1985 there were seven food outlets along with the creation of Shirley’s Shack which was developed from a travel trailer.
In 1994, 150 spaces were lost in Zone 2 due to the construction of the Para Mutual Betting facility.
In 2004 the Turlock Swap Meet was trademarked and a website was built. The Parts Shuttle Service was established. In 2007 the Modesto Area A’s Club and the Fairgrounds negotiated a long term contract.
In 2013 the Polo Grounds became the staging location for vendors which helped with the traffic congestion.
In 2023 the Swap Meet had over 1,000 vendors and used every available inch of the fairgrounds to create 2,067 spaces. The attendance over the two days has reached 20,000+.