On any given day, in rural countrysides or the suburbs, a slice of true Americana can be found just about anywhere. Arrows point the way, balloons mark the spot, rows of cars speak to the fact that you’re late. People old and young search through boxes – seeking to find the best of another person’s junk.
The flea market. Spring and early summer are the top times of the year to find one, what with spring cleaning and all. But they take place throughout the year, some outgrowing their faithful driveways and moving to churches and convention halls.
That’s what happened to a fishing event started 15 years ago by the Great Bridge Fisherman’s Association. After filling the humble hall at the Hickory Ruritan Club for the inaugural event, the organization was having to sell booths throughout the parking lot by the second annual.
Finally, it became too much for the club and the GBFA moved down the road to the Chesapeake Convention Center. Even in that considerably larger facility, booths – approximately 100 of them – are crammed in tight. Walking room is a premium.
Still, thousands come each year to see what someone else just has to get rid of. Antique lures, tackle, even a primitive line stripping device devised by founder Butch Pierce’s family. There is new stuff as well, as some of the area’s novice lure makers will try to get their special shine and glimmer to catch someone’s eye.
While most flea markets feature quick-hitting shoppers looking for bargains they can turn into their own sales, the GBFA has become an annual go-to event where familiar faces are the norm. Many of the show’s vendors and customers have been with the event since its inception.
The Fishing Flea Market is the association’s biggest fundraiser for community programs that feature fishing trips for the elderly, scholarships and donations to organizations like Wish-a-Fish, Hope House and the Wounded Warrior Project.
This year’s market is from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. March 11 at the Chesapeake Convention Center in the Greenbrier section of town. It’s $5 to get in, unless you are a youngster 12 or less and accompanied by a paying adult. You can buy an ice cream with your money. Eat it fast, though, ‘cause your parents are probably going to need your help carrying all the stuff they bought.
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