FUTURE, PRESENT and PAST Full Flea Market Festival back in July

By Steve Quakenbush

A dozen years ago, the Finney County Historical Museum staged a small, low-key gathering of visiting vendors, along with a sale of donated merchandise, as a means of raising some much-needed funding. Little did anyone know what that quiet Saturday morning would eventually become.

Today, we’re getting ready to host the 12th Annual Flea Market Festival of Antiques, Collectibles, Art and Crafts – an event that has drawn crowds surpassing 4,000 people, while packing the east side of Lee Richardson Zoo with up to 55 booths offering an extensive array of hand-made and commercial goods and services.

We had to scale back the 11th annual festival last year, of course, limiting it to only the sale of donated items, because of health concerns about mass gatherings at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. This summer, however, the full-scale event is back. The time is 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the date is July 10.

We’re staying true to the original format, with the museum’s outdoor patio, Mary Regan Conference Room and adjacent space covered with clean and gently used merchandise such as ceramics, collector items, cups, Christmas decorations, brassware, dishes, DVDs, electronics, furniture, glassware, home décor, kitchenware, knick-knacks, lamps, motorcycle helmets, picture frames, rugs, sports and exercise equipment, tins, toys and games, utensils, vinyl record albums, wall art and a boatload of other bargain-priced objects in what amounts to a 4,500-square foot garage sale.

Simultaneously, booths spread out along the sidewalks in the sun and shade of the zoo, just south of the museum, will be operated by vendors from at least eight Kansas and Oklahoma towns. They’ll be offering antiques, baked goods, books for children, boutique finds, candy, clothing, crafts, collectibles, decorative gourds, glassware, metal sculpture and utility items, old-time lamps, pain relief and skin care products, purses, sewn items ranging from quilts and baby blankets to potholders and table toppers, splatterware, Tupperware, tools from past times, vintage and contemporary toys, plus plenty of additional merchandise. There will also be photo and massage therapy booths.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and other meal options will be available from Flat Broke Barbecue, along with homemade pie by the slice from popular Sublette baker Andree Johnson. Additional consumables will be sold by Milk Tea House, Kelly’s Festival Foods and more entrepreneurs planning to bring bier rocks, cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, chili rellenos, cotton candy, freeze dried treats of many types, lemonade and other beverages.

BOOTHS AVAILABLE, DONATED GOODS NOT NEEDED

The only major difference for 2021 is that we’re limiting the total number of vendor booths to approximately 40, so we can provide a little social distancing space. Masks will certainly be welcome, but not required.

At this point, by the way, we still have room for those who want to set up a booth, but it’s important to stop by the museum soon or call at 620-272-3664. Hours at our front entrance – 403 S. Fourth in Garden City’s Finnup Park – are presently 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

To all of those who have donated items for the patio and conference room sale, we offer our heartfelt thanks. We have been nearly overwhelmed by the volume of goods, and we’ve already stopped accepting them simply because we’re completely out of storage and preparation space.

We also want to thank the sponsors who have made this popular community event possible, including the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau and two local businesses who have shown a commendable interest in supporting the museum – Commerce Bank and Best Western Plus Emerald Inn and Suites. In

addition, we owe a debt of gratitude to our next door neighbor, Lee Richardson Zoo, for the support of their staff and the use of property just south of the museum.

At the same time as the Flea Market Festival, the Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo will be conducting Jungle Run VI, a fun, colorful and extensive auto show. The cars will be parked on the west green of the zoo, and the way to get there and to our event is through the zoo’s pedestrian arches at Fourth Street.

In the meantime, don’t forget that we’re offering free summer tours of the Historic William Fulton House, the Folk Victorian home just southwest of the museum, 2-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays except July 4 and 10. You may also want to visit the museum’s Front Door Gallery soon to ogle our latest short-term exhibit, “Unmentionables, An intimate peek at the underside of Victorian and Edwardian Era fashion.”

We’ll be watching for you in the days ahead, and certainly on the second Saturday of July at the Flea Market Festival. That ambitious little gathering launched back in 2010 has grown into a popular community event, as well as a great way to meet your friends and neighbors and shop for all kinds of antiques, art, crafts and bargains.

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 .

Quakenbush