Published: September 19, 2000
Brimfield’s Fall Edition
The ‘Mother of All Outdoor Fairs’ Only Gets Bigger
BRIMFIELD, MASS. – Brimfield’s Fall Show unfolded September fifth beneath blue skies and temperatures in the upper seventies as route 20 was witness to an incredible stream of humanity whisking away rdf_Descriptions from the 4,000 vendors split into 22 fields. Police cars escorted school buses through the mile long back up, ensuring students timely arrival at school. Eager shoppers waited in line with coffee in hand, warming themselves from the early morning chill, prepared to begin their fall excursion to what has been called “the mother of all outdoor fairs.”
Faxon’s Midway started the event off Tuesday morning with Lori Faxon and husband Tom at the helm having been at their site for 15 years. Lori states, “75 percent of her vendors return to Faxon’s each year. The best part of the shows is meeting some very nice people.” She adds, “the most successful dealers are familiar with the times and adjust to new trends in the market.” She has met people from “Germany, England, France and all over the US. The show attracts such a universal crowd, it is amazing.” Faxon’s September 5 opening day brought a very large crowd of shoppers to the 400 dealers and by Thursday the seventh a steady stream of buyers wandered booth to booth as dealers prepared for Friday and Saturday’s deluge of shoppers.
May’s Antique Market opened the flood gates at 9 am precisely Thursday to a waiting crowd of thousands signaled by Richard May who along with his wife, Laura, orchestrated the staff and 600 vendors with a confidence gleaned from 23 years of shows. The May’s son, Tim, set up a tent providing links to the Internet allowing passerby’s the chance to check their email and also search for a specific dealer by location or specialized rdf_Descriptions from the site, BrimfieldExchange.com.
Saturday’s crowd was huge as reported by Laura May and a lone rumble of thunder was the only moment of doubt weather wise; a few raindrops reminded the crowd how great the weather actually was during the show. Dealers expressed concern eBay had taken away buyers, but many also realized eBay gave them a broader market to buy and sell and a balance of a physical and a virtual presence could enhance their business. One dealer had a “No eBay” leftover sign posted but most dealers believed the experience of physically viewing and buying an rdf_Description would never be pushed aside by a virtual shop. A.B. Perkins of Waterford, Conn. was set up in May’s and said “eBay was okay, but touching an rdf_Description and being able to see it up close was the only way to appreciate it.” He reported business was a bit slow at 11 am on Thursday. Perkins had a mint Old Town canoe, a guide model #50, which he bought new in 1960 and was asking $1,800. It was later observed across the road in a Central Park space.
People have come to Brimfield for an experience unrivaled by any other show, anywhere. The atmosphere, the excrdf_Descriptionent of the opening gate, the routing through boxes, the thrill of the hunt, the haggling- all provide the threads of a fabric called Brimfield. This is what keeps the tens of thousands coming three times a year to find themselves once again pulling carts of treasures, carrying mantles and walking miles to be part of an event which defines antique show.
J & J Promotions was the unlikely scene of a couple marrying before a crowd of a thousand just before the 6 am gate opening on Friday morning. Beneath a white arbor, Dyan Larson and Walter Parken exchanged vows as a vintage “picnic” 78 record player filled the air with I’ll Keep the Lovelight Burning by Louis Armstrong and For Me and My Gal by Arthur Godfrey. The bride and groom pulled a red wagon with “Just Married” written on the back and were escorted to the front of the line and were first to enter the show in search of wedding gifts for each other. They quickly found a frame with both their birth stones for the wedding photograph and Dyan bought Walter a small ivory bust for his first gift.
J & J Promotions, occupying some 40 acres, is run by sisters Jill Kukesh and Judy Mathieu whose father started a small field show of 67 dealers in September 1959 on property called ‘Auction Acres’ which was the precursor to all of Brimfield. Judy states, “I can’t describe the feeling of looking out and seeing how the show has evolved and is very proud to carry on the family tradition along with daughters Lori and Jill and four of five of their children. Judy also can’t imagine doing anything else and reports, “99 percent of the people are absolutely wonderful. She is extremely happy to have her children and grandchildren involved and this is quickly evident as she smiles when explaining the hierarchy of jobs and how each child progressed from one to another.
The 750 spaces are filled with dealers mostly by referral and by those who provide positive references insuring a high quality of antiques and collectibles. Many of the same dealers have been showing here for 30 years. Saturday’s crowd was incredible as approximately ten thousand buyers browsed the field and many dealers reported strong sales. Chinese Country Antiques, Inc. had to cancel the show as they sold their entire show contents to a buyer who contacted them just before the event. Based on previous dealings with the dealers, the buyer purchased all rdf_Descriptions. Andrea and her husband, Lynde, packed up the rdf_Descriptions and sent them to Ohio; reputation is everything, apparently.
Dealers Richard and Regina Knight, of Valley Falls, N.Y., said, “Crowds were really running Thursday morning but by noon had fallen off and they were a bit slow, though everyone had stopped and looked at their circa 1890 commode and highboy.” John and Veronica of Centreville, Delaware replied we’ve had a fantastic day so far and interest was high in the large collection of duck and fish decoys, lures, rods, reels and tools in their well appointed booth. A gas lamp glowed in a corner providing ambiance as well as some heat to make their booth a real pleasure to stop and browse.
Judy Mathieu shared much of the history of her father and how he began a show in which dealers sold their wares from the tailgates of station wagons and how the show slowly progressed to include more and more dealers. She replied she could never have imagined how large the show would become and certainly never could have imagined the reputation Brimfield would garner. She said her father was most likely looking down and smiling. He must be as most others rushing by were smiling also, though they probably didn’t realize the legacy unfolding on a large field in front of a big red barn which bore witness to the roots of an icon now called Brimfield.
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