“Is it a good day so far?” I ask Carl of Carl’s Deli Country Style Mustard. With a twinkle in his eye he replies, “It’s always a good day.” That’s especially true if you’re on the grounds of the Springfield Antique Show’s extravaganza.
Big Footprint, High Praise
Market warriors, pickers, and treasure hunters, take note! The show is held most months at the Clark County Fairgrounds, but May and September bring the highly anticipated indoor and outdoor events. With more than 2,500 vendors and as many as 20,000 visitors, the extravaganzas offer acres and acres of antiques, artwork, raw materials for repurposing, food, and, well, junk.
The show is not a secret in antique circles. Food and Wine magazine praises the market for it’s “particularly strong selection of farmhouse antiques and vintage tableware.” Country Living names Springfield one of America’s Best Antique Shows and recomments looking for “advertising signs, Midwestern pottery, vintage fashion, and painted furniture.”
What to Buy
Since my parents were avid quilt and furniture collectors, I’ve attended this fair since my stroller days. I vividly remember tagging along, asking every fifteen seconds whether it was time to go home. Thankfully, when it came time to outfit my own home, I developed a new appreciation for the show. My Mom and I now challenge each other to find the best bargains, and we always come away with something to show for our efforts. Bonus? Walking the grounds is a nice way to exercise together and get our daily dose of Vitamin D.
Several years ago, I adopted the hobby of making new bracelets out of broken vintage jewelry. The show is a perfect place to scout estate remnants. To make the game more interesting, I carry just one $20 bill and am not allowed to spend more on the baubles. This round did not disappoint, as I found a booth with big boxes of perfectly usable beads in the form of discarded, tangled necklaces. My haul on Friday? About 25 pieces for a grand total of $14. With my remaining cash, I collected a new-to-me western earrings and necklace set for $4 and two pretty ’50s era scarves for the just $1 each.
If my budget had been a little (or a lot) higher, I’d certainly have brought a truck to gather bigger steals. My favorite furniture dealers are placed just behind the main Mercantile Building. The Old Red Barn, based in Defiance, fills multiple booth spaces with handcrafted work. This weekend, Linda and Judy showed an especially nice black wainscoting buffet used as a bar. It’s topped with oak hardwood, offers lots of storage, and runs $595. The milk carrier flower arrangement sitting atop the buffet can be had for $38. Just a few spots down, Neal and Diane of Pine Tree Primitives in Illinois displayed their architectural salvage work. Example? An old Pepsi bin was repurposed into a beverage cart complete with a butcher-block top. Grab it for $395. Elsewhere, I found a massive seed cabinet turned kitchen island and multiple dining room tables, storage cabinets, and dressers.
Fashionistas will enjoy the large selection of vintage clothing. A dozen booths sell stylish threads, but the very best can be found via two specific dealers. One is located about halfway down the far left row inside the Arts & Crafts Building. There, Ernie and Tom from the former Brown Street store The Look have racks of well-made finds ranging from $10 to $30 each. Hint: with their selection, one could easily outfit an entire Mad Men cast for the 2013 Tippecanoe HarvestFest. Behind the Mercantile Building, furniture painted a delightful turquoise will catch your eye. The shabby chic pieces are created by Harry & Annie’s and Memories Gate, both of Washington Court House. In the same booth, you’ll find a vintage red sequined prom dress for $32 along with a treasure trove of antique linens. Seeking that lovely lace wedding gown in the photo? It’s just $32 and can be snapped up from Three Vintage Chicks near the main entrance.
And what about Carl’s mustard? Find him at space 39A next to the Goat Barn and have a sample. As his sign proudly proclaims, “It will be a tasty experience.” Carl, based Springfield, sells his special recipe in nine different flavors at shows throughout Ohio. Don’t miss his Horseradish Garlic Banana Pepper Mustard, great for topping turkey sandwiches.
Missed the market this weekend? Plan to attend the Fall Extravaganza the weekend of September 20-22, 2013. Between now and then, join the show’s Facebook group and browse their Pinterest boards.
If you’re traveling to the Miami Valley for the festivities, consider planning your trip to include the wealth of other antique destinations in the area. The 116,000 square foot Heart of Ohio Antique Mall near Springfield was called a Best Source for Antiques and Collectibles by Martha Stewart Living. Historic Downtown Tipp City, about 30 minutes from the fairgrounds, offers several well-known antique shops including Benkin & Co. and Midwest Memories. Lebanon and Waynesville (toward Cincinnati) and Urbana (north of Springfield) are also known for their antique shopping experiences.
If You Go
Location: Clark County Fairgrounds, 4401 S. Charleston Pike, Springfield, Ohio 45502; take Exit 59 from I-70
Admission: see details for various levels of entry on the show’s website
2013 Dates: May 17-19 and September 20-22
Food: J&J’s Cafe offers a full cafeteria inside the Mercantile Building; dozens of food trucks operate outside; our top pick Crazy Uncle Larry grills burgers and enormous pork chops
What to Bring: water; comfortable walking shoes; sunscreen; a notepad to jot down locations of booths you’d like to revisit; a pull-cart to transport your fabulous finds; your dog (yes, the event is puppy friendly!)