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The Brimfield Antiques Show began in the 1950's and has become the largest and best-known outdoor antiques show in the country. Running along Rt. 20 for a distance of perhaps a half-mile and perhaps 500' or more, back on each side of the highway, the Brimfield Show is a huge, vast undertaking, filled with thousands of dealers dealers over the course of the week, selling everything from the finest antiques to 'yard junk', requiring a day or two to see everything there is to see. Food courts and rest facilities abound, and the Shows are filled with hidden treasures and the 'right kind of people', creating a safe and fun environment for everyone, children included. Shows are patrolled by uniformed and undercover police, and rarely is there any trouble of any kind.
Brimfield is a quaint, picturesque rural New England town, home to 3,000 residents. Founded in 1731, (the year before George Washington was born), the town's 35 square miles are surrounded by apple orchards, horse farms, and wooded hills in an area known as the Pioneer Valley, and Foothills of the Berkshires.
During show-times, the town's population balloons to over 250,000 visitors and over 5,000 dealers for the 6 days the Show operates. The Show has a carnival-like atmosphere, appropriate for all ages, where good vibes prevail, (and few, if any problems ever present themselves).
Dealers come from all over the world as do visitors. From millionaire world-famous rock stars and movie stars to the local resident from down the street, the Show is a Mecca for serious and casual collectors of all kinds of antiques. A few of the Fields require an entrance fee on the initial opening, usually $5.00-10.00, which tends to be waived later in the day. Most fields do not have any entrance fee, and generally, you can move freely from field to field.
There is almost always plenty of parking available, at $6.00 - 8.00 in the middle of town, a bargain in itself. Also, in the middle of the show, the New England Motel hosts the largest and most popular food court with a wide variety of food booths to satisfy every taste. Additionally, food carts and booths appear throughout various locations and the wide variety of available foods has become a draw in it's own right.
Each of the fields is required to provide sanitary facilities, and these are clean, ventilated affairs that are checked often for sanitary condition.
By far the largest inconvenience to the whole show is the traffic getting into and out of town, which can range from none to over 8 miles of backup. Traffic is unpredictable, and often determined by the weather. Occasionally, peak show times see bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main access road for a few miles - (Rt.20 E&W), but the stream of traffic along the show route is nearly almost always a short inconvenience compared to the surprises and joys of exploration that lie ahead.
While many are curious about the staggered show openings, thinking it carefully planned, there is no overall Town "management" committee for the Show --each promoter sets his or her own exhibition schedule. As the late Bob Brown, publisher of the Brimfield Antique Guide liked to say, "It all works entirely by accident". And work it has, for 50+ years! Brimfield is renown the world over as the Outdoor Antiques Capital of the World. If you're doubtful of that fact... the visitor statistics on this web-site tell the story - with an average 30,000 page requests each month, hits in the millions during show-months at all hours of the day, and visitors from over 26 countries...the Brimfield Shows are the undisputed King of Outdoor Antique Shows!
For quicker access into the show, take Exit 8 on the MA Pike, (Rt. 90) through Palmer onto Rt 20 East to Brimfield. Directions are posted at the toll booths.
Don't worry, if you've never been to the Show before, there's no real way to prepare for the experience. You should probably take a look at the Cigar Afficionado article (under History News and Articles) to get a flavor of what to expect.
Also, check the Tips Section for more guidance.
In general, just know that if you're looking for an antique item and cannot find it at the show or through one of the 5000+ dealers who come from the world-over to the show, chances are that you might have to live without it.
Brimfield is a small town of 2,000 that balloons to over 30,000 on peak show days. There are crowds, yes, but there is a particularly festive, safe, and family-oriented atmosphere that can be enjoyed by all if you're prepared. And because the Show ranges over a distance approaching a mile, the crowds are not concentrated as you might expect.
Parking ranges from $3.00 on the outskirts of town to $6.00 in town. We consider parking in town (at $6.00) one of the best deals around. Warning: Police actively patrol the side streets and highways and will immediately tow anything remotely resembling a vehicle not parked properly. Please use only the parking lots to be sure!
Shoes MUST be comfortable, as you'll be on your feet most of the day; ideally, carry a foldable bag that you can stuff in your pocket when not in use, and take out to carry small items you purchase. Backpacks are an excellent idea. Strollers, even though space is limited, fit in quite well, and there's no need to leave the young ones at home. Just make sure, as always, that sun protection is available for you and your family.
It's also a very good idea to agree beforehand at a central place to meet, in case you get separated. If all else fails, the police station is behind the town hall (the big pink building in the middle of town), and bike police are commonly seen through-out the show area as well.
While we're on the subject on police, please be aware that the police do not tolerate open alcoholic beverages and drug-use will land you in the hoose-gaw pronto.
There are plenty of portable rest room facilities and sinks: every promoter is required to have these on-site, and they are generally clean, well ventilated, and not a problem to use at all. Porta-potties have come a long way in the 9 years we've been in town.
There is also an abundance of food: just about anything you like can be found at the dining areas in the middle of the show route. We particularly like the New England Motel cluster because there's almost always a dozen or more different food booths set up as in a food court, as well as tables and benches and---entertainment--- as well. We think the Texas Barbeque Pit is the best spot around and have a hard time sampling others. This past show, we admit, we did manage to sample the Lobster Stand, featuring cooked-and-cracked-on-the-spot, lobster sandwiches, which we found to be a delicious, hearty treat, overflowing with succelent lobster meat - a deal at @ $6.95. On the other hand....the fried mozzarella at Francesco's (with Frank and Rosa's Special Sauce) is phenomenal and a meal all by itself at $5.95! Let us know your favorites, and we'll post them here.
While you will see dogs here and there, they are not permitted on all fields, and the trend is towards banning pets.(See the Frequently Asked Questions section on the TIPS page).
There is an ATM machine at Country Bank on Main Street across from the Brimfield Common. There are also mobile AMT vans that can be found, either at New England Motel or Hertan's Antique Shows. Others can be found in neighboring towns of Sturbridge, Monson, Palmer & Warren.
Finally, to get the best deal, cash works best.
The few tips we can offer here are gleaned from years of personal experience at the Show. One of the benefits to living in Brimfield as we do, (and a small town it is when the Show isn't around) is the willingness of the Promoters to talk about the Show, what they saw, heard and heard tell of.
Remember, the Show runs sun-up to sun-down, rain or shine!
The Town recently passed new legislation prohibiting overnight camping at the Show UNLESS you are an exhibitor - this means all camper vehicles, tour buses, Recreational Vehicles, Vans, etc., seeking overnight parking are required to overnight park at commercial campgrounds.
Also: There is NO parking permitted on State Roads anytime, anywhere - Rts 19 & 20 - Show Roads - are State Roads - Never any parking!!! If you park on a state road, we guarantee you will be ticketed and towed (and have to deal with Crazy-Dave to get your car back! Crazy-Dave also sells used cars, so he doesn't much care whether you get your car back or not)! (But we love Dave anyway.)
(Figure it this way - if you're parking somewhere for free, it's illegal...unless you're at a friends' house. The town tows aggressively!)
(Don't say we didn't warn you!)
From the moment you first come into town, generally from any direction, and most particularly from Rt. 20 East from Sturbridge, you will see signs advertising parking, and myriads of "official-looking people", waving flags, trying to steer you into their lots.
The least expensive parking, on the far outskirts of town is not an easily walkable distance, and for that reason, shuttles are provided. These sites are ideal for those who wish to avoid driving among foot and motor traffic in the center of town.
The most expensive parking, at $8.00-10.00 (per day) can be found along Rt. 20 along the main Show route. We think this is a real deal, and recommend parking as close to the center of the show as possible. Waiting in traffic a few extra minutes to park is a minor inconvenience compared to lug around any "treasures", then onto a shuttle bus and then on to your car.
Believe us, there is (90% of the time) plenty of parking in the center of town, (be patient - its worth it), and you're that much closer at the end of a long day to resting those sore, tired feet.