By David Smith
BRIMFIELD, MASS. — Ahhh, the rituals of spring. For mainstream America, spring means getting the back yard in shape after a long messy winter, tending the gardens, perhaps even a fresh coat of paint on the old hacienda. Yet for a select group of Americans, those just slightly outside of the mainstream, these fancies are about as far from their minds as Mars is from planet Earth. For the thousands in this vocal minority, spring means only one thing: Brimfield.
For those in the know, spring means getting the old legs back into shape after a long messy winter on the couch. After all, there are the 50-yard dashes to look forward to at the opening bell from Tuesday through Friday, combined, naturally, with at least a minimum of ten miles of trekking per day. On top of that, there is the toting of packages and frequent trips to the car. Spring means perhaps acquiring a new bench or urn for the garden, hopefully with an old coat of paint. Spring for the true Brimfieldite means packing the car with luggage overstuffed with of a wide variety of attire, everything from shorts to long-johns, foul-weather gear to sunscreen and every type of footwear imaginable. This is after all Brimfield, and anything can happen.
Brimfield began the 2002 season with a bang. The weather was a meteorologist’s dream come true. There was an assortment of cloudy days, rainy days and sunny days; no matter what the forecast, they hit the nail on the head with the “sun, mixed with clouds and possible rain” predictions. Tuesday openings saw rain. Wednesday openings saw a partly cloudy day, although combined with the ground effects of Tuesday’s rain and thousands of pairs sloshing boots, it proved a muddy experience. Thursday was sunny and the fields dried out some making travel somewhat more pleasurable. Friday suffered with sporadic rain showers and the ground effects proved somewhat sloshy after overnight rains. And Saturday saw rain once again with many of the well-trodden mud holes transforming into a soupy abyss. This is after all Brimfield, and anything can, and usually does, happen.
We heard of the usual big scores, the lucky ones and also the unlucky ones. Those that found treasures at bargain bin prices, those that had found good things but had paid a good price, and, ultimately, those that had found nothing. All in all, it seemed to be a typical Brimfield, those that lucked out were in the right places at the right time, and those that were two steps behind them were in the wrong place at almost the right time. There was plenty of junk to wade through, perhaps somewhat less junk or maybe slightly better junk than we have seen in the past, but there were also lots of booths with good stuff and sales seemed to good most everywhere. Many of the rdf_Descriptions we photographed were seen later on throughout the week in different booths, on different fields, or on the back of hand trucks heading for places unknown.
Tuesday openings were the most plentiful with Central Park and The Meadows opening for the week at 6 am, Faxon’s Midway and Brim-field Barn Antiques opened at 7 am, followed by Faxon’s Treasure Chest at 9 am, Dealer’s Choice at 11 am, and then the popular Brimfield Acres North market at 1 pm.
Shoppers have three shows to peruse on Wednesday with the New England Motel opening for the week at 6 am, Heart-o-the-Mart lets buyers in at 9 am, and Hertan’s gets underway with a 11 am opening.
Mays is the only field to have an opening on Thursday, the original field opens with J&J (The Girls) on Friday, and the week winds down on Saturday with an 8 am opening at Brimfield Acres North and a 9 am opening at Dealer’s Choice.
While we did not make it to all the openings, The New England Motel had a huge crowd awaiting Wednesdays opening, an estimated 5,000 people squeezed through the gates at Heart-o-the-Mart’s highly anticipated opening, and Hertan’s smallish field was overflowing with buyers just a couple hours after that. May’s has always attracted huge crowds for their Thursday opening and this year was no exception with 5,000-plus making their way onto the field via their three entrances. The Girls opening was somewhat hampered by overnight rains and gloomy skies that occasionally dumped more precipitation throughout the day, although the crowd was still large and high spirited.
The mass of humanity that exhibits in and attends Brimfield will be back for the summer series with openings scheduled for July 9-14.