Flea market brings thousands to downtown

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, October 7, 2017

Even the threat of afternoon showers wasn’t enough to keep a few thousand people from flocking to downtown Vicksburg Saturday for the Old Courthouse Museum Flea Market.

Held twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall — the market attracts a variety of artists selling their wares and food vendors offering diverse goodies.

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“We started at 8 a.m. and the crowd started picking up around 10 a.m.,” said Bubba Bolm, the curator and director of the museum. “I think we will have maybe three or four thousand people come out. The museum puts on the flea market twice a year, once in October and once in April and it raises funds for us.”

The flea market serves as one of the main fundraisers for the museum with proceeds from vendor fees going to support restorations to the building and new exhibits. In all there were 100 vendors selling items ranging from homemade wooden crafts to antiques, local honey and more.

Billy Mangum attended the market as a vendor for at least eighth straight year, he said, selling his handcrafted knives.

“Each one of the knives takes me anywhere from seven to 10 days to make. All of them are made out of Damascus. I’ve got 512 layers in my Damascus steel,” Mangum said. “(I come out) to support the courthouse and feed my hobby. I sell them to buy more knife supplies. It helps me out and helps the courthouse out also.”

Paul Barnes is another longtime vendor and was at the market for the third straight year selling a variety of wooden crafts he made by hand. In years past he sold mostly just his wooden ice chests, but this year he added carved clocks and fall and Christmas decorations.

“I love meeting people,” Barnes said of why he returns every year. “It is just fun. I see people I haven’t seen since last year and I enjoy making crafts so people can enjoy them and have something a little different.”

Despite the decidedly unfall like temperatures and grey skies on the horizon, shoppers were out in force looking for a deal or something they couldn’t help but take home with them.

“Just to see what they had different,” Vickie Lewis, who has been coming to the market off and on for 10 years, said of why she enjoys it. “My husband has retired. He usually doesn’t come with me so it is a different adventure. I’m just looking to see something that catches my eye. I saw some praying hands that are unique and we bought chairs for our RV.”

Alex Long lives in downtown Vicksburg and used the market as a chance to stock up on local honey and jams.

“Sometimes it is an antique and sometimes it is just local honey,” Long said of what she ends of finding at the market to buy. “I’ve come the last couple years so I thought I would check it out again. I really like the local and homemade jams and I like the antiques.”

Eighteen food vendors were also on hand for the market selling treats including meat pies, lemonade and frozen chocolate bananas. One of the mainstays of the food vendors is Christ Episcopal Church and their meat and crawfish pies. They estimated they would sell more than 860 pies during the market as a fundraiser for the church.