Brimfield Antique Show

If you love thrifting and live in New England, chances are you’ve heard of the Brimfield Antique Show, a massive, miles-long antique extravaganza that comes to Brimfield, MA three times a year.

The dates for this year (2019) are: May 14-19, July 9-14, and September 3-8. I’ve been going to Brimfield for years now, and I’ve come away with some tips and tricks to make the experience enjoyable.

Here are my top five, plus an extra important bonus tip:

Tip #1: Ignore the advice to ‘arrive early’- I stressed about my arrival time the first year I attended, and then discovered that rolling in at 10am is just fine and you miss the starting-time traffic.  You can still find parking, which will cost you between $5-$8, and there is SO much stuff that I don’t think you have to worry about things being picked over.  Shopping on opening day has its advantages (first pick), but also keep in mind that no one is really up for bargaining on the first day- they are more likely to bargain on the last day, when they are wanting to clear out their booth for the trip home.

Tip #2: Dress comfortably and in layers.  I have been at Brimfield in light rain, scorching sun and even a hail storm.  Bring more layers than you think you will need- you can always take them off and stash them in your cart or bag.  Also, wear comfortable footwear.  I would suggest rain boots if you visit in May- the fields tend to turn to mud at the slightest hint of rain.

Tip #3: Be aware that the prices at Brimfield are high.  If you are used to antiquing at little shops in New Hampshire, Maine and other “under the radar” spots in New England, you will experience sticker shock here. That being said, if you are going for a special, one-of-a-kind piece, and you know what you want- chances are you will find it at Brimfield, and fall in love- just be prepared to shell out some dough! Bring cash, checks and charge cards; most booths accept all three though cash is always king.

Tip #4: Don’t try to cover the whole of Brimfield.  You will be thoroughly exhausted and overstimulated trying to process all that you saw.  The first year I made that mistake, and didn’t really enjoy my experience.  Now I have certain areas that I have come to know. I weave through my favorite areas, maybe explore one new field and leave feeling satisfied.  The guide (with a handy map) and/or app can be helpful in picking out a prime area to browse. Take your time, enjoy, and trust me- don’t try to see it all.


Tip #5: It helps to have a plan. I always try to make a loose plan before embarking on a Brimfield trip. What is it that I am looking for? When I was shooting my cookbook, I had a list of kitchenware and props that I wanted to find. When we were redoing our kitchen I had a specific light fixture that I was hunting down. Bring a detailed list, with measurements (and a measuring tape) and photos of the area which will house the object. For example, if you are looking for a bench for your foyer, bring a picture of the space, as well as measurements of the ideal length and depth of the piece. Though you might think you’ve committed all of these details to memory, the minute you show up at Brimfield, you’ll be so excited and overwhelmed with choices, it will all go right out the door.

Bonus tip: Don’t miss Faddy’s donuts. This is the real reason I make the trip to Brimfield- an apple cider donut from Faddy’s, rolled in sugar, and warm from the donut maker.  It makes the entire trip just that much sweeter!

If you have any other favorites, ideas or suggestions, feel free to add them below.


Christine Chitnis

Writer and photographer Christine Chitnis lives with her husband and sons in Providence, Rhode Island. Her latest book, Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet (Roost, 2016) features 75 recipes for easy-to-make homemade frozen treats.

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