"The Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Shows are renowned throughout the world as a unique gathering of over 5,000 dealers from all corners of North America. With over 20 independently operated shows along a one mile stretch of Rte. 20 in central Mass., we offer an incredible variety of treasures from the past during each of the six day events every May, July and September."
Yes, Brimfield is almost here. Even though you can find almost anything you want on the online auction sites, there are a lot of items sold at Brimfield and other antique shows that never make it to an online auction. I always run into at least one person at every Brimfield show who has made a great find. You can actually see and touch items and maybe haggle a little on the price with the dealer. It's a good excuse to get away from the keyboard and get a little fresh air.
In this article, I offer tips on how to prepare for the largest outdoor antique show in New England. The May show runs from the 9th through the 14th. The show schedule is on the Web at http://www.brimfield.com/html/show_times.html, along with a map (http://www.quaboag.com/html/maps_of_shows.html).
A Place to Stay
If you are booking a hotel room when you travel to Brimfield, it's wise to book early. It's recommended that you book 9 to 12 months in advance. With over 5,000 dealers setting up at shows and thousands of dealers and collectors shopping the fields, hotel rooms are at a premium. Brimfield itself has only a couple of motels. Sturbridge is the next town East on Route 20. Sturbridge has many hotels, but you may need to expand your search to the Worcester or Chicopee/Springfield areas if you are booking late.
If You Don't Like the Weather in New England, Wait a Minute,...New England weather changes frequently. The temperature at night and early morning during the Spring and Fall shows can dip well below freezing. During the day, it can be in the 90's. Rain is always a possibility. So, pack for all seasons. Don't forget raingear and sunscreen. You'll have to walk a lot, so wear comfortable shoes. There are food and drink concessions, but you can always bring your own if you prefer.
Rise with the Birds
Being early is also important when you are driving to the shows. There are often traffic backups when the shows start, and you should factor in extra time when driving from your hotel or home. Brimfield starts on Tuesday morning, and the fields open early. Even if you get there at 5am, you'll have a lot of company. Before dawn, buyers with flashlights will be walking as dealers open up their tents. If you go early, you should also bring a flashlight.
Most people like to get to a field when it opens and view items as they are being unpacked. The field openings are staggered. So, you can make your plans to be at a few fields when they open but there's so much ground to cover you won't be able to make it to all of them. Two fields at the West End of Route 20 open later, though, and always draw good crowds for their openings. Dealer's Choice opens at 11 and Brimfield Acres North opens at 1. You can find information on field openings, etc., at the Web site (http://www.brimfield.com/html/show_times.html).
Most of the early buyers specialize in one area of collecting and target their search for those items. Some people wear shirts advertising their search for certain items. When a field first opens, you will find people
asking each dealer if they have political items, gambling-related items, cast iron cookware, etc.
The Necessities of Life
When you need a break, there is an area near New England Motel that is full of food vendors and tables. Food is offered on the fields as well. Port-a-potty's are located all throughout the fields as well.
If you are leaving late in the afternoon and travelling East, the traffic can be very heavy where the road narrows in Sturbridge. It may be better to go West on Route 20 to Palmer and go East on the Turnpike from there.
There are 3 shows each year: May, July and September. The first show this season starts May 9th. Happy hunting!