A Rainy Day at the Brimfield Antique Show
inMay 26, 2011 - 1:45pm
When it started, the Brimfield Antique Show and Flea Market was a relatively modest affair. The late auctioneer Gordon Reid Sr. turned a field behind his home into a market for 67 vendors in September 1959. It didn’t take long for others to turn nearby fields into markets three times per year. This year for the first show of the year, May 11-15, the fields were full with nearly 2000 vendors from around the country and Cowboy Rick and I were anxious to experience what promised to be a fabulous day.
For weeks before the event finding vintage jewelry was nearly impossible as every dealer said they were preparing for Brimfield. One gentleman at a local flea market encouraged us that we simply couldn’t miss it, in fact, he, himself, had loaded up thousands of pieces of jewelry for the show and he gave us directions of exactly where we could find him at “The Meadows” field. My friend, Hope, an antique mall owner gushed about how much she loved Brimfield and she was busy selecting merchandise from her store to display at the extravaganza. I went to the Brimfield website to get directions and figure out where the handicapped parking was located. Everyone said there was no way we could see it all, so I did research to figure out which fields we wanted to shop.
Even though the forecast for the weekend called for showers, the website promised that Brimfield goes on—rain or shine. So when we woke up to gray skies on Sunday morning, it didn’t deter us at all. We packed the wheelchair in a large black garbage bag, dug out the water repellent ponchos, loaded the umbrellas, dressed in layers and headed out west from Lexington, Ma to the tiny town of Brimfield.
We arrived to hundreds of empty tents! We heard from the few die-hards that were set up that a deluge of rain complete with thunder and lightning had blown through at about 2am. Many of the dealers camp in tents or sleep in their cars and the stormy forecast had sent them packing the evening before. Others, discouraged by the large puddles and “moats” around their booths had simply not opened for the day.
Most of those who had opened were in the process of packing up. We had expected bargains on this, the last day, of the sale. But we soon realized that for most of the vendors this was just one show in a long list of shows they were traveling to and they were not anxious to lower prices. For the most part, prices were much higher than a normal flea market and in some cases higher than book value. I think the most shocking prices were at a booth that had jewelry pieces and parts from a closed factory in Providence, RI. None of the pieces had appropriate finishes and none were complete. They did have amazing rhinestones and there were thousands of pieces—starting at $25—for a broken piece about 2” across. Some of the more elaborate pieces and parts were priced at $1000!
Perhaps the most disappointing of all was the large empty tent where the gentleman had promised thousands of pieces of vintage jewelry. After 5 hours and nearly 4 miles of walking, soaked to the bones, with frizzy, wet hair, aching feet and nearly empty shopping bags, we trudged back to the truck.
But it wasn’t a wasted day. We enjoyed the spring time ride through Massachusetts with all of the flowering trees and newly green forests. It wasn’t too hot and we got lots of exercise. We did find a few very nice pieces, including some fabulous Juliana jewelry at good prices. We had the most amazing apple strudel we have ever tasted at one of the food booths. We met Sherrill Cyr of Now and Then on Ruby Lane who had Ruby Lane well advertized at her booth with brochures and a sticker on her car. It was great chatting with her and comparing notes.
It was a hoot shopping and talking with two sisters who have done Brimfield for the last 3 years selling only the items from their compulsive hoarding mother’s home. They said that for this show they finally had the living room cleared out and had started on the dining room. I completely forgot about the steady downpour while sitting under their tent idly passing the time, sorting through vintage jewelry.
And best of all, it was another relaxing, fun day spent with the love of my life, Cowboy Rick. After his cancer diagnosis in January of this year, every day finds us grateful and blessed for the time God has granted us together. And so I write this as we drive home from a rainy day in Brimfield—already planning a return trip in July—this time on the first day of the show! Of course Cowboy Rick says he would rather be in Canton, TX for First Monday, our favorite flea market in the country. Only problem is, I can never find him in the crowd with so many other cowboy hats!