Growing up, my family would occasionally browse flea markets. Not just any local flea market. No, the five of us would load up into the van and haul ourselves out of town for the best flea markets. We visited Caesar Creek, Trader’s World, and Lucasville to name a few. All within a reasonable distance of home, but far enough that (as kids) we felt like we were taking a real road trip.
I remember one of my favorite purchases at a flea market. I was maybe 12 years old and we were visiting the booths outside at Ceasar’s Creek. These were the kind of booths that were open under a pavilion. Most of the vendors stuck with a simple set up. A few tables of boxes filled with their goods and not much else. Not anything at all like the booths inside the main building that rivaled storefronts.
I found one such booth lined with boxes of treasures. The boxes were stacked two and three high, creating aisles and rows throughout their vendor space. I went down every row mesmerized by the price tags etched in Sharpie. $1, 2 for $1, $.25 all over the place. And yes, things were that cheap. I found what I considered to be pure gold. An airsoft pistol. I’d never had much more than a super soaker growing up, but I’d earned $5 and I was determined to buy something fantastic with it. That little air soft pistol fit the bill. I quickly paid the man and ran back to my family with gun in tow. My mom wasn’t a fan. I’m not sure if it was that I had bought a gun or that I was running through the crowds towards them toting my valuable. I was thrilled about my new toy.
I wish that I could tell you that purchasing that gun fueled a desire in me to learn gun safety or go hunting or even join law enforcement. But it didn’t. I shot my friends in the legs with it a few times (sorry guys!) and then once it was out of pellets, it collected dust. Nothing really came of it. Just another thing to add to the junk drawer.
Caesar Creek Flea in Wilmington Ohio is a nice little flea market to visit. After we paid our $1.50 for parking, we circled around the parking lot to choose a good entry point. There are 2 pavilions of vendors, plus a few rows of parking space booths in addition to the main building of more permanent vendors. We were able to get through everything in about an hour and a half, but if you are on the hunt for something in particular or like to soak it all in, you could easily spend longer.
There were several booths set up that brought a smile to my face. Like this wig booth.
There was also a vendor with a trained monkey. You could pay a quarter and the monkey would take the money from your hand. If you paid a dollar, you could get a photo of the monkey to take home. Or if you were a high baller, you could pay $5 and get to pose with the monkey on your shoulders for a quarter. I paid a dollar and received a side show style black and white photo to add to the collection of postcards and memorabilia on our fridge. We watched this booth for a long while. Mesmerized by the side show-esque feel and the tiny little guy working his tail off. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I don’t believe that English was man’s first language, so I didn’t get a real feel for his relationship with his companion. But how often do you see a monkey outside of a zoo or Animal Planet? So I gave a dollar.
Inside the main building, vendors have a more permanent feel. There is a food court available in the center. It looks a bit like an older amusement park’s open eating area, but indoors. The food is decent. Diner caliber. But if you’re not hungry, skip it. There are usually food trucks and street vendors set up outside that are local guys just starting out. Definitely go support them!
I got lost in one booth inside the main building at Caesar Creek. It was like one of those libraries you see in movies. Stacked floor to ceiling with books. Rows so tight you can only get down them by shuffling sideways. I found the Science Fiction section and just about went nuts over the selection of Ray Bradbury novels. Then something caught my eye in the cookbooks. Can I just say I never, ever, ever buy cookbooks. Sure I have a few, but I’ve not bought a single one of them. They’ve all been given to me. It’s just not my thing.
Until I saw this cookbook.
I’m still so excited by my find. It’s a cookbook for tailgating and travel. I never thought of trying to cook on our road trips. I usually just pack deli meat, bread, chips, water and snacks. Which is cheap, but it’s dull in the same breath. Especially eating it several days in a row on a longer trip. This book is from the 70s. I can picture the author in a Volks Wagon, the real wagon one, and cooking out of the back. I want to do that! Can you imagine having a whole little kitchen set up in the back of your car to take advantage of at rest stops? Ok, maybe I’m just a little too excited. But I will be reading more of this book and sharing it with you!
All in all, I’d consider my trip successful. Even though I only spent $2 for a book and $1 to shake a monkey’s hand. It was nice to browse and see interesting things.
Have you ever shopped at a flea market? What was your favorite find?