Three times a year, the small town of Brimfield, Massachusetts, becomes a mecca for antiques dealers and shoppers alike.
Brimfield is a shopping experience like no other. Since 1959, the community of about 3,000 people has hosted one of the country’s largest flea market extravaganzas. Considered the oldest outdoor antiques event running for over 50 years, the Brimfield shows are held for six days (Tuesday through Sunday) three times each year, in May, July, and September. The event is comprised of about 20 individually-owned show fields that have specific operating times and open in a well-orchestrated sequence from dawn on Tuesday and throughout the week.
Find the schedule for each event at brimfieldantiquefleamarket.com. Some shows charge an entry fee ($5 is average); others have an early shopper fee; still others are accessible at no charge from the first hour.
Howard’s Entertainment from Essex, MA, offers cool vintage trunks and suitcases.
For the really big man cave how about a gorgeous vintage canoe?
Old cabinets and fine china contrast beautifully at the Sage Farm Antiques booth.
Sage Farm Antiques fills their booth with collectible eye candy. They also host a monthly show at home in North Hampton, NH.
Inspiring Vignettes are the specialty of Dawn Bilodeau of Reclaimed Charm from North Andover, MA.
Styled to perfection by dealer Andrea Techera, this fine antique bureau is topped by a salvaged sunburst window frame.
Andrea and Kevin Techera fill their booth with timeless treasures that would work well in any home.
Hometown Antiques from West Brookfield, MA, shows Shaker pieces, primitives, and rustic vintage housewares.
The Vintage Retriever from Holden, MA, is a regular dealer at the Shelton Antique Shows (see the map at brimfieldsheltonshows.com).
An industrial fan blade would be stunning hanging on a wall or over an outbuilding or she-shed entrance.
Malchione Sporting Antiques from Kennett Square, PA, shows maritime, angling, and outdoor sports collectibles regularly at the Heart-O- The-Mart along Highway 20.
Hailing from an old general store in Maine, these screen doors begged us to take them home. So we did—they’ll be fabulous enclosing the kitchen pantry.
Ideas for outdoor decorating abound at this flea market. This vintage bicycle makes an eye-catching display.
Vintage cabinets, bring both style and storage to any room in one unique package.
Primitive antique signage offers a charm and handcrafted history that manufactured signage just can’t match.
WHAT IF…Our answers to questions from first-time visitors.
I BUY MORE THAN I CAN HAUL? Shippers are located onsite for anything too big to fit in your vehicle or to carry onto an airplane. Most fields have porters available for a nominal fee, and you also can arrange to drive onto the field late in the day to pick up large items.
I CAN ONLY VISIT ONE DAY? Weekdays are best if you can manage it. Unless you’re looking for end-of- show deals, Saturday is better than Sunday. Expect the traffic on Saturday to be heavy.
At each show there’s an excitement among shoppers getting caught up in the spirit of antiquing and the thrill of the hunt. Don’t miss it.
BRIMFIELD BASICS: Lois Shelton, proprietor of Shelton Antique Shows, offers this advice to Brimfield visitors.
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Layer up or down as the temperatures change. Remember your hat, sunscreen, boots, and umbrella. Replenish fluids often.
Write a phone number on your key chain and glasses. Don’t think you won’t lose them! Have your cell phone charger, and auto club, ATM, and insurance cards on hand. Carry on your personal emergency contact numbers in case of accident or injury. If you lose your cell phone, call it. Someone might have found it.
If planning to see specific dealers, know their locations and setup dates. Not everyone will take your check or credit card. Some will deal only with cash or traveler’s checks. Most dealers are happy to haggle. You’ll find them more receptive to, “Will you accept…” or “Can you do better?” not “I’ll give you….”
Always get a receipt if you are picking up merchandise later. Be sure it shows the field, dealer name, and space number. Verify what time the dealer will close.
Thousands have gotten lost trying to make their way back to the dealer by the barn, fence, or brook. You should get a receipt anyway, in case you find a problem with a guaranteed piece.
CREATURE COMFORTS: Bed & Breakfasts in the Brimfield area and motels in Sturbridge tend to book up a year in advance. If your trip is a last-minute decision, try booking in Worcester to the east or Springfield to the west. Both are a quick drive down the Mass Pike.
Food vendors abound at all the fields and offer a variety of food items. There are also a few local restaurants in town for a sit-down meal. Having dinner in one of the surrounding villages or towns is a great way to end the day.
Ample parking is available in private show lots around the event. Pricing is
determined by size of vehicle and proximity to the center of the action, but expect to pay around $5 for the day. Parking along Highway 20 is not permitted and is carefully monitored.
ATMs are available on some show properties. In addition, you can get cash at ATMs at the Country Bank on Main Street in Brimfield and in Sturbridge, Palmer, Warren, and Monson, all about 10 miles away.
If you’re hydrating as you should, you’ll need to find restrooms. Don’t count on it. A port-a-potty is probably the best you’ll do. Also, note that it’s not a good idea to bring pets to the shows. Most of the fields prohibit them, and it’s hazardous, of course, to keep animals locked in vehicles.
GETTING THERE: Set amid the picturesque hills of the Quaboag region, the town offers more than just a massive shopping overload. Check out qhma.com to see what else is going on in this historic area.
Brimfield is 7 miles west of Sturbridge Village, the famous reconstructed Colonial town. Hartford (30 miles away), Providence (40 miles away), and Boston (60 miles away) have airports and car rental agencies.
From the north, Travel south on I-91 to the Mass Pike entrance. Take the Mass Pike East to Exit 8 (Palmer). Turn right after the tollbooth and left at the first light onto Route 20 East. Continue east about 8 miles to the shows.
From the south, travel north on I-91 to 291 East, to the Mass Pike entrance (Exit 6). Take the Mass Pike East to Exit 8 (Palmer). Turn right after the tollbooth onto Route 20 West. Continue west about 7 miles to the shows.
From the east, take 495 South to the Mass Pike. Take the Mass Pike West to Exit 9 (Sturbridge). Turn right after the toll booth onto Route 20 West. Continue west about 7 miles to the shows.
From the west, take the Mass Pike West to Exit 8 (Palmer). Turn right after the
tollbooth and left at the first light onto Route 20 East. Continue east about 8 miles to the shows.
To avoid Mass Pike traffic at exits 8 and 9, you may exit sooner and take Route 19 or Route 32 from southerly directions, or consider Routes 32 or 67 from the north.
Too Far From You??
Check out our Flea Market Map to find market near you.
Know of one that we’ve missed? Let us know! We’re always looking for more Flea Markets and Antique Shows to hit!
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