I have shopped the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market twice now. Although I wish it was closer, I’ll be making the haul every year now!
There are over 500 dealers at this flea market. Like most flea markets I attend, it is at the local fair grounds. However this event is unique in that it is a ONE DAY show! A lot of other flea markets I shop are 3 day events. The event is held 4 times each year. This one day flea market is always on a Sunday from 7 am to 3 pm in May, June, August and September. You can find out more about the show on their website.
Secret Early Bird
I’m sharing a BIG secret with you!!! If you looked at the official website, there really isn’t any mention of the early bird shopping! That surprises me because the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market promotor gets $25 per early bird ticket, versus $5 regular admission. For that reason I would think they would want to shout it from the rooftop!
Shop Elkhorn Antique Flea Market with me
How It Works
So, here’s how early bird tickets work. On the Saturday before the show dealers can start setting up at 1 pm. When the dealers get to go into the fair grounds, people who buy early bird tickets also get to go in! These early bird tickets allow you to shop Saturday 1 pm until 9 pm. And then on Sunday you can go in as early as 4 am. I have not ever arrived at 4 am, but the gates are open. I normally arrive between 5 am and 5:30 am. Since the sun is up at the point there are people shopping and vendors are starting to arrive at this time.
I’m pretty sure the food trucks were up and running with coffee and breakfasts foods at that point too!
If you are frugal like me then you might question buying an early bird ticket. However, my experience has been that it is worth it.
The biggest reason to spend $25 versus $5? The ability to shop!
During early bird there is a good crowd of people, but the event is spread out around the fair grounds, so it’s easy to see pieces and shop. When the event opens to the public at 7 am on Sunday the big fair grounds starts to feel very small. People are shoulder to shoulder in a lot of booths. The walkways are full of people. Moving freely and seeing inventory becomes difficult.
So, if you don’t like people or want to be able to walk easily in and out of the booths, then spend the extra money. Because I am driving so far, I want to make it worth my time and come home with a truck load. That is much easier to do when you can see the treasures!
Tips for Early Bird
While I definitely think early bird is worth the extra $20, I might suggest waiting an hour. So, instead of lining up to go in at 1 pm, just get there at 2 pm! It takes the dealers awhile to find their booth spot and to get trailers parked. Then, they might have a tent to set up. After that, they start unloading their inventory. But, even then, it is often times packed up in totes. Eventually they get to unloading their totes. That’s when I want to shop.
I have a lot of dealer friends that want to shop as vendors are unloading their haul. However, personally I’d rather they had at least half of it unloaded so I can actually see it and shop! Some vendors are okay with you shuffling through their things, but others aren’t. So, be sure to ask if it’s okay before you start shuffling through totes or stuff that hasn’t been unloaded.
Don’t forget that on Sunday you don’t have to stand in line and wait for the flea market to open to the public. I had a new Instagram friend tell me that she didn’t realize early bird worked for both days! She stood in line for awhile before someone in line noticed her wrist band and was nice enough to tell her she could go on in!
So remember, not only do you get to shop Saturday, but you get to go in early Sunday morning too!
I met Kristin from Vintage Goodness! Luckily Kristin had looked up and seen me because when you’re shopping you normally have your head down looking at inventory! Kristin is a member of my Staging Your Antique Shop coaching group.
Just like any flea market, just because the event is open, doesn’t mean you can shop every booth. Some dealers get unloaded Saturday and then tarp their stuff. They might be out shopping the flea market or go home for the day. Some dealers don’t arrive until Sunday morning. But the flea market promotors do ask that all vendors stay open and don’t start packing up until 3 pm Sunday. I have never been there at 3 on Sunday, so I’m not sure if the vendors do or don’t listen about packing up.
Overall this is a true antique flea market. There are a couple booths with “new” metal yard art, but majority of the vendors carry what I call good “junk,” vintage and antiques. There are some that specialize in MidCentury Modern, old signs, plants, etc. but for the most part it’s vintage items for your home.
See My Elkhorn Antique Flea Market Haul
My favorite beverage is an Alani cherry slush flavor! Mornings in May are CHILLY and I was so thankful to find this koozie in my truck to save my fingers!
Flea Market Tips
- Dress in layers
- Wear a hat
- Wear sunblock
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Have a cart or wagon
- Have bags
- Carry Baby/Sanitizing cloths
- Have plenty of cash
- BE NICE
Get more details on all of my flea market shopping tips HERE.
How It Went
Well, lets just say I didn’t pack very well! All of my tips above I ignored for myself it seemed!
So, I packed one sweat shirt and one pair of jeans. Everything else I packed was hot weather clothes. Guess what happened! It was a COLD May weekend! I had looked at the forecast, but there ended up being a storm pass through the area on Friday and a cold wind came with it. So even though it was to be in the upper 70’s, the wind made it feel much cooler!
While I looked at the daytime weather, I forgot to see how cold it would get at night. It was cold at 5 am! Luckily I had some hand warmers in my truck, and a stocking cap. Those things helped me stay warm until the sun came out!
Another thing I don’t typically do is shop in a group. However, I ran into some Instagram friends and decided to stay with them as I shopped. We all know that when you go in a group, you shop much slower so that everyone can stay together. It was a fun time don’t get me wrong, but I probably didn’t make as many purchases because of it. That could be perceived as both good and bad. Good because I didn’t need much and it saved me money. But bad because I didn’t shop as much.
I do think we might coordinate another flea market trip as we are all hoping to go to Brimfield Antique Show some day!