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Brimfield Bound
by Brigitte Carucci Mesa

Looking for the ultimate antique adventure? A nice weekend getaway?

A one-mile stretch of dusty road, 20 open spacious fields, vendor after vendor (there's 5,000 of them), a bargaining spirit in the air, money changing hands, shouts of glee as you stumble upon something you've been long searching for, negotiating a great deal, the sweet exhaustion of a whole day antiquing, the fatigued but happy collapse on your hotel room bed at the end of the day ... where can all this be found?

At the Brimfield Antique Show, the country's largest outdoor antique show, in Brimfield, Massachusetts (central Massachusetts). Brimfield is a small town (population about 2,000), but swells in size three times a year to accommodate the Brimfield Antique Show. About 30,000 people attend the show each year, but because the show spreads over a one-mile distance, it is more than manageable! There is a heavy police presence (to assist with parking, questions and crossing the street), but the atmosphere of the show remains very lively, family-oriented, safe and most of all, fun!

More than 5,000 vendors hawking an astounding variety of items ... everything from lobster traps, wooden signs, silver, watches, pottery, football memorabilia and vintage clothing to militia collectibles, jewelry, glass, textiles, huge pieces of furniture, and much more ... whether you're a serious collector or just looking to browse, the Brimfield Antique Show is worth the trip.

If you collect something specific, are just an antique shopper or just want to browse, you will most certainly find what you're looking for here, and possibly things you weren't looking for! An easy four hours from New York/New Jersey, Brimfield is host to the Brimfield Antique Show three times a year (May, July and September). The show is open for a six-day period starting on a Tuesday and ending on a Sunday; each field opens at different times, with most opening around 5 a.m. and closing around 5 p.m. - 12 full hours of treasure hunting!

The serious antique shoppers can be seen at the crack of dawn scoping out the fields with flashlights in hand or maybe miner's hat on their heads. An antique show that boasts annual visits from Barbra Streisand, Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart, Brimfield has long been a popular place for vendors to display their wares. For nearly 40 years, the show has attracted antique dealers, buyers, browsers and curiosity seekers from all over the world. Bargains galore with vendors willing to haggle, prices range from the paltry $1 items and on up.

It's been said that if you've never been to the Brimfield Antique Show before, there's no real way to prepare for it. This is true. No matter how well you prepare for your first trip to Brimfield, you will be blown away by the experience. I have included some planning tips and tricks below to help you get the most out of your Brimfield excursion.

Book your overnight accommodations early - nearby lodging books up quickly! Some places will take reservations a year in advance, and most people make the following years' reservations when they check out. If you are unable to find lodging in Brimfield, you can also look in the Worcester, Sturbridge, Holland and Springfield areas of Massachusetts, and Hartford, CT, which is just a half-hour drive. Bed & Breakfast-type establishments are popular in this area. Check with your local AAA office for more lodging suggestions, but the following might be helpful to you:

River's Edge Bed & Breakfast (413-245-7310)
1880 Inn (413-967-7847)
Misty Meadows Bed & Breakfast (413-245-7466)
Bittersweet Farm Bed & Breakfast (413-245-6524)
Elias Carter House on the Common (413-245-3267)
Pynchon House Bed & Breakfast (413-245-4300)
Tamarack Farm Bed & Breakfast (413-283-8664)
Cooper Lantern Motor Lodge (508-867-6441)
New England Motel (413-245-3348)
Wildwood Inn Bed & Breakfast (413-967-7798)
Sheraton Springfield Hotel (413-781-1010)
Publick House (508-347-3313)

Tips From the Road:

The antique show is presented in several open fields with no benches or shade to speak of. Because of this, it gets hot. Go in the morning, and then take a break and go somewhere else for lunch to get out of the heat. Then return to the market in the afternoon. You'll feel more refreshed.

Drink plenty of fluids. There are food courts that serve a variety of food (outstanding lobster roll sandwiches and lobster bisque) and drinks, and you'll find many food stands lining the street. Once in the middle of the market though, cold water is harder to come by. Don't get so carried away with the market that you neglect cooling your body. You'll miss too many great pieces and deals if you've passed out from heat exhaustion!

Invest in a wagon or something similar to carry your purchases. The fields are big and wide; when you find a few worthy purchases in the beginning of the market, by the end of the day, you'll be tired of carrying around all your stuff. Buy a silver metal pull-type cart that you often see people using when walking home from the grocery store with groceries. This will prove to be a worthwhile investment. Each day, we made several trips to the car just to empty the cart and refill it. If you're a collector of smaller items, consider bringing a tote, backpack or something similar to carry your newly purchased treasures. Also toss in a few necessary essentials, including sunscreen and a plastic poncho or small umbrella. Don't be caught unprepared, as it takes valuable time away from doing the most important thing ... shopping!

Arrive early for good parking. There is plenty of parking, but it fills up fast, and the closer you get to the show, the better. Parking lots charge between $3-$6 and some will give you a pass if you leave and come back the same day (so you avoid paying twice).

The show is held rain or shine, so dress appropriately. And above all else, wear comfortable shoes!

The Quaboag Valley Chamber of Commerce offers a 32-page Visitors Guide to the antique show. Call their office at 413-283-2418 to order the guide or mail $5 to QVCC, 1429 Main Street, Palmer, MA 01069. The guide has useful information about the antique show, starting times for each field, hotel/lodging information, local restaurant information and more. Also check out this web site: for more information.

Besides the antique show, if you're looking for other things to do in the area, check out the following:
* Old Sturbridge Village - a variety of shopping and dining possibilities; it is also considered to be largest "living" history museum in the North. You'll find recreations of daily and community celebrations of a rural 19th century town.
* The nearby small town of Warren - the town's biggest treasures are the old railroad station and an absolutely beautiful stone library. Also in Warren you'll find Tucker's Hobbies, a popular model railroad shop.
* In the town of Ware you'll find many stores and outlets for your shopping pleasure.
* In North Brookfield, you'll find a great apple orchard - Brookfield Orchards. Brookfield residents hold a flea market on Sundays during the year. You can also have fresh apple dumplings with ice cream at their on-site snack bar, pick your own apples or go shopping in their large store filled with everything from antiques and used paperback books to fresh apple pies, honey, jams and dumplings.






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