Future, Present and Past

If you’ve been among the crowd attending the Finney County Historical Museum’s Flea Market Festival in recent years - including the 10th annual gathering last summer - you know that we usually host up to 50 visiting vendors and a crowd of more than 4,500 people.


This year, however, we’re scaling things back considerably in order to take proper pandemic precautions.


We’re still planning to conduct the event, and we’ve scheduled it for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 11. You’ll find us just south of the museum in Lee Richardson Zoo, but we’re limiting the day to our traditional sale of donated items on the museum’s patio and in the adjacent Mary Regan conference room. With COVID-19 concerns, this obviously isn’t the year for large-scale mass gatherings.


Nevertheless, you can still count on free admission and thousands of gently-used and thoroughly-cleaned goods at garage sale and bargain basement prices, spread out over nearly 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor shopping space. As a matter of fact, we’ll be using some temporary fencing to enlarge the outdoor sale area, allowing us to space out our tables for safer shopping.


Social distancing precautions will obviously apply and hand sanitizer will be accessible. Face masks regulations in effect at the time will be observed, and we’ll offer free masks at the gate as long as the supply holds out.


"OKP" TO COCA-COLA COLLECTIBLES


If you’re wondering whether we’ll have something on hand for you, just keep in mind that we’ve received brassware, ceramics, Christmas decorations, collector plates, clocks, cookbooks, cookware, cups, electronics, dishes, fabric, figurines and furniture. We’re also offering games, garden items, glassware, home décor, lamps, luggage, office items and picture frames. In addition, we have stuffed animals, tins, tools, toys, utensils, vases, vinyl record albums and lots of other "OKP" - objects, keepsakes and paraphernalia.


As a special feature this year, the sale will include a surprising selection of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s collectibles, ranging from plates, cups, tumbler sets, trays, signs, playing cards, thermometers, cookie jars, magnets and metal containers to lunch pails, lamps, banks, hats and caps, Frisbees, puzzles, car tags, fishing rods, telephones and several dozen ubiquitous Coca-Cola polar bears in at least a six-pack of different sizes.


There won’t be food on sale this year, but we will be selling water and soft drinks - Coke and other options among them. Cash and checks are welcome, and our free museum exhibits will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


TIME TO PERUSE & PARTAKE


We’re going ahead with the scaled-down sale for a couple of key reasons. It requires financial support to operate the museum and carry out our year-round work not only in exhibits, but also in history-related education, research and preservation of artifacts and records. We had to cancel three fund-raising events during the recent Coronavirus shut-down, and may have to call off others, so this is one way of earning some of the resources we need to continue serving the community.


The other reason is simple. Even though it will be much smaller than in previous years, and involve the kind of precautions that we’ve all become familiar with in recent months, the event will still offer people an opportunity to get out in the open, encounter a few friends and neighbors, peruse some potential bargains and partake in little fun.


Next year, by the way, we plan to be back with several acres of vendor booths once again, offering everything from handcrafts, antiques, curios and collectibles to specialty goods, apparel, pottery, artwork and slices of pie. In the meantime, we hope you’ll be able to come by 8 a.m.-2 p.m. this year on the Saturday of July 11 for the Finney County Museum’s 11th annual Flea Market Festival. We won’t be able to shake your hand, but we hope to spot you sharing the day with us, even if you’re wearing a mask.


Steve Quakenbush is the executive director of the Finney County Historical Society. He can be contacted at HYPERLINK "mailto:squakenbush@finneycounty.org" or at squakenbush@finneycounty.org .