… for one of the largest outdoor crafts markets in the South this week.
by Judy Smith
This isn’t just any old flea market, and this isn’t just any small town. This is “The Flea Market” for the South in a town that’s been featured in such Hollywood movies as “A Time to Kill” and “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Voted one of the “Top 25 Events in the Southeast,” the Canton Flea Market Arts and Crafts Show in Canton, Mississippi, is definitely the place to be this Thursday, whether you’re looking for that unique present for the holidays or simply browsing arts and crafts from some of the most talented artisans around.
Held on the second Thursday in May and October, the Canton Flea Market (not to be confused with First Mondays in Canton, Texas) traditionally plays host to more than thousands of artists, craftsmen and vendors from across the country. Back in 1965, the flea market modestly began as a way for local artists and craftsmen to show off their goods. Nestled among the beautiful magnolia trees on the historic Madison County Courthouse grounds, area artists would hang their paintings and crafts on the wrought iron fence for shoppers to browse and hopefully buy. Now, Canton welcomes well over a thousand artists and craftsmen as they display their goods in booths and tents lining the downtown area.
From its humble beginnings, the Canton Flea Market has become one of the largest outdoor crafts markets in the South, and shoppers from both below and above the Mason Dixon Line religiously return year after year. Betty Dearmon and her mother, Eleanor Robinson, have been making annual trips from Laurel to the market for about 30 years. Dearmon now takes her mom in a wheelchair, determined not to miss this family tradition.
“It’s definitely a mother/daughter experience,” Dearmon says. “That day has always been about us. We took my daughter last year, and now she will be part of our tradition.”
The Canton Flea Market offers a downhome, country feel along with some of the best shopping around. Rest assured that anything you buy here can’t be bought in stores.
Dearmon says she loves to shop for decorations for her home and always finds lots of great jewelry to decorate herself. Sometimes, her eyes are bigger than her shopping bag though. One year, when her daughter was younger, she bought a set of miniature tables with matching chairs, benches, rocking chairs and shelves. Then, when she made her way to the next booth, she found a version of them in wrought iron and couldn’t leave without buying those as well.
“We tied stuff all over my tiny Altima, and when we finally got home, I had to take my car to be repaired,” she says. “The trunk wouldn’t even close because we had done so much damage to it. I have so many memories … you would think we would get tired of going after his long, but never. We leave at 3:30 a.m. so we can be there by first light.”
Dearmon is already counting down the days until this year’s October 11 market. Joycette J. Nichols, Canton municipal court clerk, understands Dearmon’s anticipation. She can’t wait to hit the flea market in search of treasures, but like Dearmon, the experience is about so much more than the packages she’ll bring home.
“The Canton Flea Market is one of the high points of the year for me,” Nichols says. “My husband and I are able to spend time together and find unique toys and gifts for our grandchildren. We get to meet and greet people from many states and countries.”
Whether you’d like to make some memories with your family or friends or strictly shop for some unique gift options, plan to make your way to the Canton Flea Market this Thursday, October 11. From 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Canton will once again welcome some of the most talented artisans and craftsmen from around the country. For shopping fuel, a variety of baked and fried goods will also be available.
10 Things to Expect in Canton on Thursday:
1. Expect the unexpected. There will always be original and never-before-seen items you simply must have.
2. All gift purchases are unique and well made. Items that aren’t homemade aren’t even allowed.
3. From the metal palm trees and sunflowers to birdhouses of every color, shape and size and gourds decorated for the holidays, you’re sure to find lots of items to decorate your garden and lawn.
5. Expect it to be a little warm, so stay hydrated and don’t forget the sunglasses and maybe a hat.
6. Don’t forget to take time from shopping to enjoy the local food options, from tornado fries to corn dogs, freshly squeezed lemonade and more.
7. Take in Canton’s historic downtown area. The town square has been the setting for some iconic films, including “A Time to Kill,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “My Dog Skip.”
8. Keep presents for birthdays and holidays, teacher gifts, etc. in mind while shopping.
9. Expect pretty big crowds, so you might want to make your way to Canton a little early. The flea market starts at 8 a.m.
10. The Canton Flea Market is a great Southern experience that everyone should enjoy at least once, but if you come, just know you’ll be coming back every year.
Photos courtesy of Canton Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Judy Smith is a freelance writer living in Laurel, Mississippi. Her work has been featured in South Mississippi Living, The Talon Magazine and Beach Boulevard Magazine, and she also writes an insider blog on things to do in Jackson for VisitSouth.com.
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