The Brimfield flea market takes place during six consecutive days each in mid-May, July, and September. A local auctioneer, Gordon Reid, started the Brimfield outdoor market, now the country’s largest, on a somewhat humbler stage back in 1959: his own backyard. Nowadays, the Brimfield Antique show is one of the best flea markets in the country.
Nowadays, more than 1 million visitors flock to Brimfield Antique Show every year to shop the peerless selection of affordable New England collectibles (weather vanes, decoys, and Nantucket baskets) and maritime accouterments (brass lamps and ships’ wheels).
The way Brimfield Antique Show works is pretty unique: The flea market spreads over more than 20 fields on both sides of the main road running through Brimfield. Each field hosts thousands of vendors (there are usually more than 5,000 flea market dealers at Brimfield flea market) and has its own opening day. On those opening days, most fields charge a preview fee. So if you want to be one of the first to check out the merchandise then you should be there on opening day and pay the fee. But this doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see and buy without paying the preview fee. A schedule of when which field opens is available on site.
Three of the best fields at the Brimfield Antique Show are Dealers’ Choice, known for its quality rustic furniture; Heart-O-The Mart, favored for hobnail glassware and intact grain sacks; and J&J Auction Acres, flush with high-end items like colonial cherrywood chests and convex mirrors.
Now, if you’re wondering how much time you need to visit the show, be aware that three days ain’t too much to give Brimfield flea market an in-depth look. From a logistics point of view, keep in mind that Brimfield has close to no hotels. So be prepared to book a hotel a few kilometers away from the flea market and drive there with a rental car. Since there is only one street to drive through Brimfield you might experience traffic jams at certain times. Parking is available in fields and around churches and usually costs about 10 $ per day.
Once you’ve found a good bargain at the Brimfield Antique Show, and if you don’t want to bother carrying it around with you during the rest of your trip, you can take advantage of shipping service available on site. However, be aware that some seasoned flea market shoppers have found the cost to ship to Europe too high. Read our article about How to Get Your Flea Market Finds Home.
Brimfield is a true foodie flea market destination – even the food sold there has a regional bent. After a long day spent rummaging through hundreds of booths, try the generously sized $10 lobster rolls, the fresh-popped kettle corn, and indulge yourself with the Pilgrim Sandwich: a supersoft roll layered with roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo. Until 2017, ‘B.T.’s Smokehouse’ was the place to go for a real treat – but unfortunately not this year. They make genuine ‘Pulled Pork’ sandwiches, that was an absolute delight. No wonder why there were always long lines of people wanting to taste them.
Best shot at a bargain: The slower July and September markets may yield better deals than the crowded May outing, which serves as the region’s antiquing-season opener. So bring a hat, sunscreen, and enough to drink. It can get hot and dusty, particularly later in the season!
Many thanks to Marc L. for helping us improve this review with his own experience of the Brimfield flea market.