Brimfield Antiques Fair

Guess what’s coming up soon! One of my most favorite times of the year: Brimfield! What is Brimfield you say? Well, only just the treasure-hunter’s, antique-lover’s, junk-picker’s paradise! 14 acres chock full of weird and wonderful stuff! Brimfield Antiques Fair is held three times a year in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and it is always worth a trip. You literally never know what you will find there! Some years I’ve gone all three times, and some years just once, but I don’t think I’ve skipped a summer since finding out about it in 2012. While a bit more crowded (and a bit more pricey!) than it used to be, it is still very fun to poke around, even if you go just to look.

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Back when I was newly married, and first setting up house, I used to buy lots of things at Brimfield, to fill in the gaps for things we needed, and replace “boring” things with antique or prettier versions, such as intricate silverware or fun little juice glasses. Then I went on a bit of a Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism/tiny house/wanting to live in a yurt kick and went a couple years without buying ANYTHING at Brimfield- just going to look around (which was still wicked fun!) And now, this year, some of the practical little things I purchased for our home back in 2012 need replacing – our cloth napkins are stained, our dish cloths ragged, our juice glasses and all but 1 of our water glasses have broken. So I will once again be shopping for practical things at Brimfield. I love holding out for the treasure hunt. I will gladly wait a year until I find the perfect, old antique thing before I drive out to a box store or order something online. Finding the perfect little thing for your home at Brimfield is just so fun! And it feels better to re-use something and give it a new life, especially knowing that it was made during a time period where quality was prized over quantity and profit.

 It can be overwhelming the amount of stuff there is. I find if you LOVE something and it is totally unique and a cheap price – just buy it then and there. If you hesitate at all, take a photo of it (ask the dealer first! sometimes they get mad about photos) and then at lunch, scroll through the photos of things and see which things you forgot about already and which you are still thinking about. The things you forgot about should probably not go home with you.

In terms of practicality, there are a few things to consider. Brimfield is HUGE. There is no way to see it all in one day (believe me I’ve tried, as I’m sure my mother and friends will attest!) If you try to see it all in one day, it is exhausting and I think you end up seeing less in a weird way, cause you are only just skimming the surface. The tents line both sides of Route 20 in Massachusetts. The traffic from Highway 90 is AWFUL. If you can go any other route (such as coming in from the North on route 19/Warren Road – do it! I’ve sat in traffic on 20 for 2 hours before). I’ve tried all manner of parking arrangements- park in the beginning, drive to the very end and park, park in the middle- either way, it does not matter- you will never be able to see it all in one day. Just make sure you wear very comfortable shoes! If you go in July or September, it can be very hot! May is my favorite time to go- what a way to kick off the summer time! No matter what month you go, the earlier you arrive, the better and the more you will get to see.

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Yes, dogs are allowed! This was such a cute pup we met 🙂

If you end up buying a really big, bulky piece, the dealer will generally be kind enough to hold it for you until the end of the day (most dealers pack up between 4 and 6 pm) at which point, you can somehow navigate your car through the maze to get to them and pack up your find! If you plan to buy a lot of little things, carry a tote bag, or even better, a backpack to keep yourself hands free. Bring snacks and water with you – believe me, you will not want to walk all the way back to your car. I’ve even stashed my lunch by a tree somewhere so I didn’t have to walk all the way back to my car, but I’m not going to “officially” recommend that – hehe it was a good idea though. Of course, there is food to purchase in the middle of it all, but it is expensive and there are not too many healthy options (although that changes every year!) – think “Fair Food”.

I’ve gone in rain or shine, and though I prefer shine, rain isn’t so bad. All the dealers are under tents, and it is less crowded in the rain. Just make sure you wear the right jacket and footwear for moisture or you will be miserable. The fairs run from Tuesdays to Sundays, although some dealers (and entire fields!) do not open until Wednesday, and some do not stay all the way until Sunday. I’ve generally gone on a Friday. It’s not too picked over at that point, and it’s close enough to the end of the week where you can sometimes haggle a deal. Most dealers don’t mind you making a reasonably lower offer (especially if you are buying multiple things from them or a bigger piece). Some dealers are not super friendly- just telling the truth. You will quickly figure out their attitude 🙂

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Taken  from the official Brimfield Antiques Show Website, the dates for the 2019 shows are: May 14th through 19th, July 9th through 14th, and September 3rd through 8th. Mark your calendar for the dates now, so you can plan on getting there. Have fun!!!

Strawberry Banke

If you love colonial New England history and architecture, there are few places better to visit than Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH. Strawberry Banke is living history as it’s finest; a colonial village of historic homes that guests can stroll through at their leisure. Each home is decorated in a different historic American style, and docents at each home explain who lived there and what happened at the homes. There are also people dressed in period clothing who are sprinkled throughout doing various colonial jobs and tasks such as basket weaving, cobbling leather shoes, and tending the beautiful gardens.img_4028img_3971img_4035We made a special trip to Strawberry Banke for their annual Harvest Festival, which is held every October. If you look at the photo above, you can see the white tent set up. The tent was filled with local craftsmen and artisans selling their wares and works. There were also demonstrations going on, such as sheep herding and more animals on display than usual. The festival gave a lively and bustling atmosphere to an already wonderful place. We were a little worried about crowds, but it didn’t feel overly crowded because most people stayed around the main lawn where the tents were set up.img_4021My favorite thing about the place were the gardens (surprise, surprise). The big one behind the main ticket office is very formal and beautiful, with a fountain in the center. Most of the houses have a small section of garden near them, which are all beautiful in their own way. There are also many whimsical touches scattered around: a wooden tower made from weathered saplings decorated with strands of seashells and gourds, a little china tea set laid out on a log table, a dwelling made of branches kids can crawl into, and various arbors and trellises climbing with vines. We also enjoyed seeing the old greenhouse, filled with interesting plants, garden tools, and pretty vignettes.img_3965img_4009img_4002
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Most of the houses were open for self-guided touring, so we poked into many of them. The colonial decor varied in each house for different time periods, which kept it really interesting. I really liked the weaving house, and a nice woman there taught me the very basics of how to weave on a loom and let me give it a try.

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I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Strawberry Banke. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting there during autumn and the Harvest Festival, but I’m sure it’s beautiful at any time of year. Also, check with your local library to see if they offer passes to the museum. We used our library’s passes, and were able to save $19 each on admission (the full cost). That made it an even better time at such a lovely place. img_4076

Sheep & Wool Festival

We went on up to Tunbridge, Vermont last weekend for the annual Sheep & Wool Festival. Nestled in a lovely green valley in the quaint village of Tunbridge, the festival is a fiber lovers’ paradise. Ethan and I were most interested in the sheepdog demonstration and the sheep shearing and we arrived in time to see both. We took a very long, meandering route up north, through the White Mountains of New Hampshire first and then cut over on route 302 to Vermont. Taking the long way was worth it. The fall foliage is beautiful up north, and driving through all of the small New Hampshire and Vermont towns was glorious. We especially loved the little town of Sugar Hill, New Hampshire where the following photo was taken. Sugar Hill definitely deserves further exploration. I will be going back up there again, and will surely do a more in-depth post on the area.
Processed with Snapseed.But anyways, back to the sheep and wool festival! I will admit, I was slightly disappointed in the festival. That being said, I think a large part of that feeling is due to the fact I am not  much of a knitter anymore. I realized last year that I had to give up a few hobbies or else I would never be able to focus on anything or accomplish anything. So, I still knit Ethan his one hat a year come November, but that is pretty much it. I’ve given up my aspirations of knitting sweaters and other complicated things that I never could wrap my mind around anyways (reading patterns, nope! haha) But the festival was still enjoyable and we had a good wander around for a couple hours, and that was really all the time it took to see everything and watch the two demonstrations- herding and shearing, which were interesting and worth seeing..
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The goat barn was fun to go through, there were so many different varieties. I also liked seeing all of the various vendors. The handmade tapestries were among my favorite things. The flowers around the barns were beautiful as well.

The sheep and wool festival is held at the beginning of October every year. I would go again simply to enjoy the foliage on the drive up there. And next time I may have to pick up some of this gorgeous yarn… Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.

Brimfield treasures

Last Friday I got to go to Brimfield again, by myself this time. It was fun to meander around at my own pace. I wasn’t as excited to go to Brimfield this go around for a few reasons. One, we are trying to save money (always haha) so I felt a little bad running off to the largest antiques show in the world where I would invariably spend some money. So I made an agreement with myself to only buy something I had a definite use for in my mind, and only I I really really love it. Here are the happy items I really really love:

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I found the silver dogwood ring for just ten dollars! That was a piece I have been searching for at all of the last Brimfield shows I’ve been to. The embroidered napkins were too beautiful to pass by- especially at a dollar each. They were my first purchase of the day, in the very first tent I went in. The embroidery hoops were also a dollar each- I love the old metal ones they are so neat! I got the fabric tape measure for when I seriously get quilting (or sewing!), when I find the time… Oh and a sewing machine… Haha I can always use my mom’s. The piece of fabric they are resting on was also a dollar! I love the print- I want to sew it to a plain tote bag. My biggest purchase of the day was the beautiful, handmade, vintage rug in the last picture. Definitely spent more than a dollar on that haha. I have wanted a rug by my bed for a long time. This one was perfect. I walked away from it at first, determined not to spend a lot of money. But, I couldn’t leave without it in the end. Now that it’s in my room, I don’t want to step on it! I might end up using it as a wall hanging. Either way, it’s beautiful and I’m so glad I got it. Brimfield is so much fun. And great exercise! Tons of walking. I can’t wait for next year 🙂