Thursday, August 20, 2009

California (antique fair) dreamin'? Hit the road!

If you're reading this, the antique street fair scene is your perfect choice for a weekend getaway. September offers lots of opportunities for street fair and outdoor fair browsing, either once-a-year annual events sponsored by local merchant organizations, or (because of California's predominantly conducive weather) year-round monthly affairs organized by professional producers. There are so many, you could plot your way down the state discovering a new fair or two every weekend, and even save money by visiting some of their websites and downloading admission discount coupons. Most websites also include maps to help you get there. Get an overview to plan your expedition by perusing all the calendar ads in the Events section of Cochran's Collector's Guide.

Start at California's capitol, with the Sacramento Antique Faire, which takes place the 2nd Sunday of every month from 6:30am-3pm on 21st Street between "W" and "X" Streets. So this year it's Sept. 13. Among their many vendors is the local store, Antique & Collectibles Marketplace (501 Tenth St), which also sells online. See an example of their wonderful pottery selection at left. Another dealer at the SacFaire is Jennie Krausse, who specializes in estate sales and also has a website.

Twice a year, the Petaluma Downtown Association in Sonoma County has been sponsoring an a spectacular outdoor street fair on Kentucky Street, the heart of Old Town, where the iron-front buildings from the late 1800s still rule the street and several antique shops are right there in the neighborhood for a little indoor browsing. Thousands of visitors have been flocking to Petaluma for this fair over the past 23 years. The 2009 fall event is Sunday, Sept. 27...Petaluma's dates are easy to remember, always the last Sunday of April and September. Admission and parking are free, and hours are 8am-4pm. Contact Marie or Jenny, (707) 762-9348, for information.

Alameda Point is the venue for the biggest outdoor antique fair in Northern California

Further south in the Bay Area, you'll find the Alameda Point Antiques & Collectibles Faire, open the first Sunday of every month. Be sure to visit their website, where they've posted a big display of photos of participating vendors' merchandise, plus another photo gallery is available on Flikr! But don't get stuck at the computer, go see it all for yourself. Alameda Point is a unique venue for an antique fair, located on former Navy property on Alameda Island adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge. Access is via Hwy. 880 as you pass Oakland, through the Webster Tube, an Art Deco marvel in its own right. The Alameda Point Faire has been bringing in thousands of visitors for 11 years, to browse more than 800 booths, and is now known as Northern California's largest antiques and collectibles show. Admission is $15 for 6-7:30am Earlybirds, $10 from 7:30 to 9, and $5 from 9am-3pm.

80,000 visitors hit Niles Boulevard August 30 for the 45th Annual Antique Faire and Flea Market
At the noted antique district on Niles Boulevard in Fremont you'll find the 45th Annual Antique Faire and Flea Market on the last Sunday in August, which falls on August 30 this year. More than 200 vendors bring their antiques, collectibles, art and crafts for the 80,000 visitors who throng the Boulevard. When the September sun is high, dozens of air-conditioned antique stores along the street offer special sales to celebrate the event. There's enough food and entertainment, not to speak of the Railroad Museum and silent films, to make a full day of it. This one opens early—6am!—and closes at 4pm. Sponsor is the nonprofit Niles Main Street Association, which uses the proceeds to help maintain and revitalize the historic Niles district. See their website or phone (510) 742-9868 to find out more.

Marcia Harmon at Cottage Jewel co-sponsors and sets the style for the bi-annual Heartland Antique Faire in Danville.

Labor Day weekend (Sept. 6) is the Heartland Danville Antiques & Art Faire adjacent to the Railroad Center on Railroad Ave. This Monday-only show is definitely offering interesting variety with folk artists, Halloween specialists, re-purposed vintage goodies, gobs of jewelry and all the usual antique surprises. An appraisal clinic will be held at the nearby Museum of the San Ramon Valley, Railroad Ave at Prospect. The Heartland Faire will open at 9am, close at 3pm. Call the Cottage Jewel, (925) 837-2665 for information.

Photo of the crowd at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, from their website

One of the most famous outdoor markets in the world is RG Canning's Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, held the second Sunday of every month, year-round (so mark your calendar for Sept 13). Starting 40 years ago, this event has built up to 2,500 vendors and 15,000 to 20,000 shoppers, including the occasional celebrity like Clint Eastwood or Whoopi Goldberg. Hey, they like to bargain for cool, old stuff too! General admission at 9am is $8 or free for age 12 and under with an adult. Earlybirds are admitted at 8am for $15, or if you're an extra-early riser come in between 7-8am for $15. Or if you're a hardcore VIP shopper who wants first peek at the goods, come in from 5-7am for $20. The last vendors are on their way out at 4:30. Parking is free, unless you want nearby VIP parking. But then, the VIP parking is where you're most likely to spot the movie stars!

Canning's most frequent attraction is the San Bernardino Market in the Inland Empire, open every Sunday at the National Orange Show Events Center, 7am-2pm during the summer, until 3pm the rest of the year. There are usually more than 700 vendor booths, attracting crowds of as many as 10,000. Admission and parking are free. Photo from Canning's website: handsome old armoires are still in demand for entertainment centers.

Rows of palm trees preside over the Ventura Flea Market, held every other month at the Fairgrounds.

But wait, there's more... If you'd rather stick to the Cool Coast, go to Canning's Ventura Flea Market at the Ventura County Fairgrounds on Sept. 27. Held every couple of months, this fair hosts around 500 booths, and general admission at 9am is $5, but earlybirds can enter 6-9am for $10.
Santa Monica Airport is another unusual venue for an antique event: the Marketplace Productions twice-monthly Market. Photo from their website

Then continue on south down the coast to Santa Monica. On the 1st and 4th Sundays of each month, Marketplace Productions holds their Antique and Collectible Market at the historic (c. 1919) Santa Monica Airport (Airport Ave. off Bundy). $7 grants early access from 6am-8am. Otherwise it's $5 general admission, seniors $3, kids and dogs free (yes, this is one of the rare events where you can bring a friendly dog). Coupons for $1 off the following week are available at the entrance. Parking is free. Reviewer Katie Heffernan at Citysearch says the quality of items at this event is definitely upscale. "...they focus on larger, quality antiques with staple pieces like natural wood tables, painted cupboards and carved bureaus," she notes. But there's plenty of elegance and exotica in the smaller decorative pieces, too.

"Eye candy" at the Long Beach Antique & Collectible Flea Market. Photo from their website

And further down the Coast is the Long Beach Antique & Collectible Flea Market at Long Beach Vets' Stadium, held every third Sunday of the month, so it'll be Sept. 20. Harry Rinker, the antique expert and author, calls this one top ten in the nation. The first show was in 1982, and since then it's grown to more than 20 acres, with more than 800 dealers. Here you can get in as early as 5:30-6:30am with the Earlybird admission of $10, or pay $5 to enter from 6:30am-3pm. Parking is free. In the MSN City Guide, writer Jim Washburn calls this event ..."an adventure in eye-candy."

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