WHAT IS BRIMFIELD?
For the uninitiated, this long-running show is considered one of the top antique shows in the nation. When I lived in Michigan I dreamed of one day making the trip. I’ve now been four times.
With over 6,000 dealers and hundreds of thousands of visitors, the show pretty much takes over the town of Brimfield, Massachusetts three times a year – each show lasting six days.
Actually it isn’t one show, there are 20 fields – yep, count ‘em 20 — each owned by a proprietor who runs their own show. This means some open and close on different days, at different times…and some charge a fee to get in.
The first time I visited I chose the Sweat, I mean the July show. I will never forget that feeling of overwhelm as I grasped the amount of “stuff” that lay before me. Parking at the start of the show area gave me the full impact; gazing down the MA-20 corridor, flanked by white tents for a good mile…and deep! Where to begin?!!
SOMETIMES IT ISN’T OLD
Of course there are some dishonest people out there who will try to pass a new piece off as old, I’m not talking about them.
There are some vendors honestly hawking “looks-like-vintage” wares; there is usually too much of the same thing, and the pieces are too uniform in look to be old.
These vendors aren’t necessarily trying to cheat you—last year I bought what I knew to be a current piece from a man who was proud to tell me it wasn’t old— it’s key to know that not every booth is antiques.
Occasionally you will find a vendor who bought a warehouse of stock that sat stagnant for decades. They usually advertise that fact since it’s a good story!
THIS TIME AROUND…
Unfortunately I chose the worst day of the week to attend: Rain. Mist. More rain. Mud. Wind. Awesome.
It was difficult to shop. The vendors needed to protect their goods so tents were more closed up than usual and some even had to tarp the tables inside. None the less, I found some cool stuff! Here’s what caught my eye…
One of the first booths I came to drew me in with a display of baseball bats—of course! Cooperstown Baseball Antiques had old bats, gloves, cards (Al Kaline Topps 1963, $40) and magazines, as well as other baseball collectibles.
This just sort of scared me. Baby doll heads affixed to cans, canisters, random items, topped with funnels, oil cans. There was a sign that said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I kept walking.
One of my favorite vendors is Keller & Ross. They are in the same spot every show, and always have cool, kitschy kitchen and photos]dinner ware. A must-see for Mid-Twentieth Century types!
A new booth for me this time around was an advertising ephemera vendor Antique Paper Memorabilia. I spent quality time in his booth; not only was there a ton of fun, high-quality merchandise, but it started pouring. I’m talking cats and dogs.
TIPS FOR BRIMFIELD, OR ANY BIG SHOW
Pack Light—bring only the essentials such as money (cash is best), license, notes, pen, Kleenex…ok maybe lipstick.
Hydrate—bring water, and buy more as needed, there are plenty of food vendors. And port-a-johns.
Park in the Middle of the Show—that way you are never that far away from your vehicle in case you buy something large (there are porters for hire) or just need to make a drop. You can also easily escape the crowd for a quiet lunch if you bring a cooler along.
Come Early and Leave by 2 pm or so—to avoid spending too much time in traffic on the way out…there is basically only one way out at Brimfield!
Have you ever been to Brimfield? Been to any other big antique shows? Does this kind of event get your juices flowing or do you want to run and hide? Share in the comments!
Let me know if you are interested in contacting the three dealers I mentioned. They don’t have websites for me to link to, but I have their contact info.
And for a few more random eye-catchers from Brimfield, check out My History Fix on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram!