Brimfield Antique Show is not only one of the most popular flea markets, it is also one of the best flea markets in the US. The Brimfield flea market takes place three times a year during six consecutive days. A local auctioneer, Gordon Reid, started the Brimfield outdoor market, now the country’s largest, on a somewhat humbler stage back in 1959: his own backyard.
Nowadays, more than 1 million visitors flock to the Brimfield Antique Show every year to shop the peerless selection of affordable New England collectibles (weather vanes, decoys, and Nantucket baskets) and maritime accoutrements (brass lamps and ships’ wheels).
The way the flea market in Brimfield works is pretty unique: The market spreads over more than 20 fields on both sides of the main road running through Brimfield. Each field hosts thousands of vendors (there were more than 5,000 flea market dealers at the last edition of the Brimfield flea market) and has its own opening day. On those opening days, most fields charge a preview-fee. So if you want to be one of the first to check out the merchandise then you should be there on the opening day and pay the fee. Which doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see and buy without paying the fee. A schedule of when which field opens is available on site. You can also download the Brimfield Flea Finder App to help you plan your Brimfield adventure.
Three of the best fields in Brimfield are Dealer’s Choice, known for its quality rustic furniture; Heart-O-The Mart, favored for hobnail glassware and intact grain sacks; and J&J Auction Acres, flush with high-end items like colonial cherrywood chests and convex mirrors.
Now, if you’re wondering how much time you need to visit the show, be aware than three days ain’t too much to give Brimfield an in-depth look. From a logistics point of view, keep in mind that Brimfield has close to no hotels. So be prepared to book a hotel a few kilometers away from the flea market and drive there with a rental car. Since there is only one street to drive through Brimfield, you might experience traffic jams at certain times. Parking is available on fields and around churches and usually costs about 10 $ per day.
Once you found a good bargain in Brimfield, and if you don’t want to bother (or can’t afford) carrying it around with you during the rest of your trip, be aware that there is a shipping service on site. But some season flea market shoppers have found the cost to ship to Europe, too high.
Even the food sold in Brimfield has a regional bent: Try the generously sized $10 lobster rolls, the fresh-popped kettle corn, and indulge yourself (after a long day spent rummaging through hundreds of booths), with the Pilgrim Sandwich: a supersoft roll layered with roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo. Until 2017, ‘B.T.’s Smokehouse’ was the place to go for a real treat, but unfortunately not this year. They used to make genuine ‘Pulled Pork’ sandwiches, that are an absolute delight. Brian Treitman, the owner, smokes meat for hours. No wonder why there were always long lines of people wanting to taste them.
Best shot at a bargain: The slower July and September markets may yield better deals than the crowded May outing, which serves as the region’s antiquing-season opener. So bring a hat, sunscreen and enough to drink…. It can get hot and dusty, particularly in that season!
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Denise Bailey24th May 2015 at 00:02
Definitely need two days for this event! Bring a wagon or wheel type cart and sunblock. Wear comfortable shoes! Not a lot of bargains for a flea market, but lots to choose from. Food is really expensive, but I do recommend the Lime Rickey’s at Dad’s Kettle Corn tent. If you love flea markets, you have to go at least once.
Denise Bailey11th August 2015 at 16:36
Love love Brimfield! Been coming for years. Have so many wonderful pieces and treasures from our visits. Just booked reservations for September. Love Brimfield in the fall.
Carole Lins9th November 2015 at 20:52
I extended my vacation from CA just to attend Brimfield. I have never gone before. My sister and I had a blast shopping, great food choices for lunch. Oh and plenty of bathrooms too with hand washing stations, very important because today was so very hot, we needed to wash up just to cool down. I was so happy we purchased a rolling cart to use. We found so many treasures, now to find a way to get them all home to CA, glad I brought an extra suitcase to fill.
Aaron Phillips5th August 2016 at 20:42
This place is insane, in the best possible way. You can find everything – from antique tiles to tables larger than my whole dining room. Definitely bring water, good walking shoes, and a keen eye. Besides the finds to be had, the food stands are also pretty good and there was a live musician playing.
Be sure to buy something that you like when you see it because While I am used to saying, I’ll come back later if I really want it, be sure to buy something that you like when you see it because 1. there is no way you will find the same booth again 2. there are too many other booths to browse that you won’t have the energy to go back 3. it might be gone before you return. All vendors seemed willing to negotiate, some have credit card options, but most do not. So come ready with cash and leave with interesting finds.