I have had the Brimfield Antique Fair earmarked on my list of things to do for years and this past spring I finally went! It was both huge and amazing, and I definitely plan to go again. Being so big, I found the fair intimidating when I read about it.
Since round two of the famous fair starts this week (July 12-17, 2016), I thought I’d share my top tips for Brimfield first-timers.
1. Go early. My friend Eva and I drove there on a sunny Saturday around 10am… when everyone else in the world was going. It took us 1.5 hours to go the last 3 miles. If you can’t make a midweek trip work, plan to go early and save yourself the headache! (Parking was easy. We parked directly next to the fair in a church lot for $10 all day.)
2. Bring water and a large tote bag. Like most festivals, the food prices are marked up. Bring your own water bottle and a granola bar. Also bring a large tote for carrying your goodies across the grounds. Should you happen across a glorious find that is large/heavy you can hire someone to help bring it back to your car.
3. Get the app. Download the app Flea Finders on your phone and you’ll have a map of the entire fair at your fingertips. This is handy if you need to find a specific vendor, food, or need a bathroom!
4. Determine your shopping strategy. If you’re on the hunt for specific items it would be best to plan ahead. The app lets you search vendors by topic (ex: “vintage posters”) so you can pin down a shopping route if needed. Brimfield has everything you can imagine, so if you are on a mission versus browsing, plan ahead! We went to explore and aimlessly enjoy, which was also fun!
5. For Moms with babies: the Brimfield website says they are stroller-friendly. And they are, sort of. Some shopping areas are gravel, so the wheels can get stuck. (Using a rugged stroller like a BOB would be better. Using a regular umbrella stroller with small wheels may prove to be painful in certain areas.) Most booths can accommodate a stroller, but some can’t. And nobody wants you knocking your stroller into their valuable antique goods! But, bringing a stroller means not having to haul around your loot in a bag (score!). As for diaper changing and nursing, I didn’t see any good areas to stop at for this. I snuck behind the tents and sat down in the vendor parking lot to take care of my little one. The vendors all loved having a baby around though, so you’ll make lots of friends!
6. Ask around! Vendors might know where to look if you are shopping for something specific. If you see another shopper with something you love, ask where they got it! After I saw two people with some awesome Maine Blueberry pickers boxes, I asked where one had got them and it turned out the vendor had brought a whole stash of them so I was able to snag one too! People were very friendly.
And, as always when thrifting, bring cash (small bills – no one wants to make change for you after negotiating down a price) and keep your money in a safe place. Check out the tips for first-timers on the Brimfield Fair site as well.