The Geneva Market ©
The Geneva Market ©

The 7 Best Iowa Flea Markets You Don’t Want To Miss

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If you’re a fan of flea markets and have visited your fair share, you’ll soon realise that no two are alike. That’s part of the charm, isn’t it? Whether it’s the setting, the vendors, the treasures or the tasty options, each event is unique and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is certainly true of Iowa’s flea markets. No matter the size of the event, the hardworking men and women behind the scenes strive to make sure their visitors and vendors have a great time by putting the H in hospitality. It’s evident in the way these flea markets have grown with the loyalty of their fans.

There are so many great events in Iowa with a flair for the vintage, repurposed, rusty junk and more that it would be impossible to list them all, so in this review I’ve personally selected the top 7 Iowa flea markets that are on my ‘go to’ list. You could visit them every year and still love them as much as I do.

#1. Best Iowa Flea Market: What Cheer Flea Market aka Collector’s Paradise

What Cheer flea market ©
© (Image courtesy of What Cheer flea market)

Located in central Iowa, about 20 miles south of I-80, vendors set up shop at the Keokuk County Fairgrounds. Held three times a year on the first Th-F-S in May, August and October. Early Bird Day is Thursday. This is where simple is best. There are over 400 exhibitors displaying their treasures in over 7 rows inside the main round track, 5 or so buildings and all the lawns too, covering the entire grounds. There are 4 concession stands selling tasty treats, popcorn and THE best funnel cake ever.

The variety here is endless: antique glass, farm machinery, jewellery, upcycled, serious collectibles to glass/china. Last year I overheard a conversation where the guy said he was from New York and he’d never been to a flea market this big. It’s pet friendly and golf carts are allowed.

Parking varies: choose the grass field or neighbours’ yards for a small fee.

Where: 13061 170th St, What Cheer, IA 50268, USA
When: 3 times a year on the first Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May, August and October

#2. The Barn

The Barn flea market©
© (Image courtesy of The Barn flea market)

What started out as the perfect setting for her daughter’s wedding in the family’s 60-year-old barn turned into a country Iowa flea market. The wedding that started it all was even featured on Style Me Pretty. You’ll find the Yoder farm and its almost-famous barn, instantly recognisable by its all-glass front, a few miles down a gravel road in rural Iowa.

The “Barn Girls”, two mothers and their two daughters, run the show with many volunteers, handpicking their vendors who sell vintage, shabby chic, upcycled, junk and other handmade goods.

It’s a real farm, with a farmhouse, cornfield car park, pond and rolling hills that make it one of the most beautiful places to shop. There are a few shady spots to sit and munch on treats from the pizza oven & ice cream vans. Vendors I know speak very highly of these ladies.

Held twice a year in spring and autumn, the event is called the Flea & Fair. Upcoming events are announced on Facebook or their website.

Where: The Barn 3271 V Avenue Wellman, Iowa 52356
When: Two days, twice a year in Spring and Fall

#3. Vintage & Made Fair

Vintage & made fair ©
© (Image courtesy of VAMF)

A local vintage shop owner saw a need for a venue that would offer inspired indie craft, handmade, antique and vintage items, while supporting small businesses with a fun experience, and so Vintage & Made Fair was born. It continues to exceed expectations.

Held twice a year, it features 6 delicious food vendors {including an adorable vintage caravan transformed into a mobile bar, as in alcohol}. Having outgrown its previous location at Jordan Park Camp, you can now find it at the historic Living History Farms, which provides the perfect backdrop for this super unique collection of vendors.

As well as the many exclusive treasures to be found, they also showcase local musicians/bands. You’ll be drawn to the fun, laid-back vibe like no other.

Where: Living History Farms 11121 Hickman Road Urbandale, IA 50322
When: Two days, twice a year in Spring and Fall

#4. The Rustique Flea and Vintage Marketplace

The Rustique Flea and Vintage Marketplace ©
© (Image courtesy of The Rustique Flea and Vintage Marketplace)

The Rustique Flea and Vintage Marketplace is budget-friendly, with free admission and free parking in classic Iowa style. The dynamic duo behind this Iowa flea market bring in vendors selling old tools, upcycled furniture, wood & farm salvage, primitives, shabby and antiques. They are super friendly & always multitasking to make sure everyone is taken care of.

You may also find these event owners peddling their own wares at other junk events around Iowa, always with a friendly smile. There’s something here you won’t see anywhere else.

Held at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Indianola, this show is held three times a year in May, July and September with plenty of parking. The facility is easy to navigate and is often held in conjunction with other local events, so plan to make a day of it. Food and refreshment vendors on site will keep the hunger pangs at bay.

Where: Warren County Fairgrounds 1400 W 2nd Ave Hwy 92 Indianola, Iowa
When: Two days, three times a year in May, July, and September

#5. Southern Iowa Junk Jaunt

Southern Iowa Junk Jaunt © Southern Iowa Junk Jaunt
©Southern Iowa Junk Jaunt (Image courtesy of Southern Iowa Junk Jaunt)

As the name suggests, a jaunt {or adventure/journey/drive} in southern Iowa that involves junk has to be worth seeing, and it is. The owner of a junk shop in Centerville, Iowa is the organiser of this event, which involves over 10 towns showcasing small businesses and vendors. As they say, grab some friends, hop in your truck and go junkin’.

At last count, there were over 18 vendors and a few individuals selling vintage cars, cabins, barns, primitives, antiques and more. It’s the perfect set-your-own-pace excursion and with so many places to visit, you’re sure to find something to treasure.

Your map shows all the stops along the way so you can plan an itinerary or just see where the day takes you.

Where: 23919 470th St, 52544 Centerville (Iowa)
When: Three days, twice a year in June and in October

#6. The Geneva Market

The Geneva Market ©
© (Image courtesy of The Geneva Market)

The Geneva Market is held twice a year, the first weekend in May and usually the third weekend in September. This small town really does come together in a big way! A group of volunteers saw the need for the auditorium at the local Geneva School to be renovated and this event is how they raise money for all the equipment. At first, the funds came out of their own pockets, but the Geneva flea market has become so popular among Iowa flea markets that they have raised over $100,000 to make their little corner of the world a better place!

In order to keep up with the growth, their location has changed a few times, but it’s not hard to keep up with them if you follow them on their social media page. They have had a few setbacks with vandalism, but they have just kept on going, how inspiring.

The range of goods here is great, from farmhouse to boho, then mix in some industrial, vintage, handmade & new it’s really unique & fun. This year they are back in the city of Geneva so it’s super easy to find.

Where: 704 Washington St 50633 Geneva (Iowa)
When: Two days, twice a year in May and September

#7. Junk Jubilee

Junk Jubilee ©
© (Image courtesy of Junk Jubilee)

Junk Jubilee hosts several events a year with vendors from all over the USA. Their mission is to bring ‘good’ junk to those of us who hate to see it be forgotten or worse, filling up the landfills. They showcase a mixture of farm, vintage, industrial, retro, up-cycled, and more. Some of the treasures I’ve seen here was one-of-a-kind pieces with a wide variety of the size selection: old postcards to glorious chandeliers.

A very special event is the Junk Jubilee Jingles, a rare occasion to shop junk and vintage items in the cold of Winter. Perfect for doing some hunting for that hard-to-find person on your holiday list or, of course, that special something you found and can’t go home without {Merry Christmas to you}!

Inside the spacious Varied Industries building is a great place for this ‘festival’ as the name suggests. Lots of room for the big crowds, good parking and the concession stand is open if you want to rest.

Where: Varied Industries Building, Iowa State Fairgrounds, 3000 East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50317
When: Several times a year in April, July and November

Bonus: US flea markets on a map!

You can now visualize the best flea markets in Iowa and in the US, on a map! Not only have we included all the above flea markets, but we’ve added to the mix some of the country’s most acclaimed antique fairs. Just click on the image below to access our map feature for free.

flea market map USA