What to Expect at the Country Living Fair
Rain or Shine, You're Sure to Have an Amazing Time!
For years I've been reading my Country Living magazines and dreaming about attending one of the fairs in Ohio or Georgia. I'd thought about making the trip from NY, but it never worked itself out. So this year, when I saw that there was a new location, Rhinebeck, NY, I was thrilled (nevermind that Rhinebeck is a mere 30 minutes from where I used to live; our move last year put us 2 hours away. But still, certainly a reasonable day-trip distance).
I was determined to attend the fair, despite the fact that the same weekend was packed with other commitments for my husband and daughters. But I didn't want to pass up this opportunity, so I called in reinforcements (i.e., super babysitter), and made my plans! Friday was the only day I could even think about sneaking away, so Friday, it was.
Thursday night, I packed my lunch and backpack, filled the car with gas, went to the ATM, and made sure the fridge was packed with snacks a-plenty for the kiddos. Everything was going according to plan... until I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the soothing sound of raindrops. I like sleeping when it rains, and for a minute I was lulled back to sleep, until it hit me that this rain sounded intense. It was not just one of those nice spring showers; it was heavy, steady, teeming rain... with (according to my iPhone) no signs of stopping for another 36 hours.
Suddenly, my visions of frolicking through the fairgrounds, camera dangling from my neck, snapping photos whilst eating an ice cream cone and simultaneously pulling a wagon full of vintage and handmade purchases, came to a crashing halt. Rain?! That was not in the plans. But, I shall not be deterred.
On Friday morning, I woke up, put on my rain boots and rain jacket, reluctantly put my Canon Rebel away (iPhone camera only today) and headed out to Rhinebeck. I'd been to Dutchess County Fairgrounds plenty of times before, and it's humungous, so I was prepared for a crowd... and the Country Living Fair did not disappoint. There was a line of cars to get into the fairgrounds, and while I didn't have to wait to buy my ticket, there was a steady stream of people flocking in. It wasn't quite as jam-packed as the Sheep & Wool Festival, although that can be attributed to the fact that there were fewer vendors (and farm animals), but it was still crowded. Definitely got a few elbows to the ribs and an umbrella or two flung in my face....
|The Red Door Antiques|
|The Red Door Antiques|
But the important part: the booths were amazing. Just downright beautiful! I'm posting pictures of some of my favorites, among them Hi Ho Home Market and The Red Door Antiques (that last link is to her blog). I had so much fun just admiring the uniqueness of each booth. If I had it my way, I would attend the fair for more than one day, just so I could really have a chance to appreciate everything, but alas, that wasn't in the cards this year. And on the subject of "having it my way," there was a lot more I would have loved to take home with me, but I had to keep my budget in mind. So what did I get? 3 vintage thread spools and a set of 4 vintage, folding, metal chairs from the 1940's (soon to be transformed to accompany my Hand-Me-Down Patio Table. Update: here's that chair transformation!). Unfortunately the nice guys who sold them to me don't have a website (because they usually don't do these kinds of venues; they usually do movie sets... which, I believe, makes my chairs infinitely more glamourous).
|Hi Ho Home Market|
Thinking about going? Maybe this will help:
Kristen's Tips for Attending the Country Living Fair
- If you're sure you're going, buy your ticket ahead of time (you'll save $).
- Get there early to secure parking close to the entrance (you'll thank yourself later when you're lugging your purchases through the parking lot). And make a note of where you parked! There aren't neatly marked spots on the grass!
- If you are going to Dutchess County Fairgrounds (Rhinebeck), don't bother bringing a cart/wagon with you. I had planned to bring a wagon, but it would have been too much to tow it around the crowds and through the wood chips . Most vendors will put a "sold" sign on your larger purchases so you can pick them up later, or you could just bring it out to the car and get your hand stamped for reentry. There's also a large-package check area, but I didn't use this. Good idea, though.
- If you're going to Ohio or Georgia, bring a cart! I haven't been there myself, by Jeanne from JuNxtaposition is a Country Living Fair veteran vendor, and she let me know they work really well there, especially in Ohio.
- Scout out the bathrooms as soon as you get there to save the stress of trying to find them with your arms full of bulky purchases (and possibly rain smacking you in the face).
- Pack a snack/lunch and water. You'll save $ this way. And while the fairgrounds food is certainly yummy, I always regret it later.
- Don't be afraid to haggle with the antiques dealers. If you're uncomfortable offering a lower price, consider asking the vendor if they can "go any lower." It's not rude, most of them expect it, and they'll be honest in their response. I overheard one vendor say, "We don't negotiate on anything under $20." Sounds completely reasonable to me, so keep that guideline in mind, if it helps! You shouldn't feel bad asking for a discount, especially if you buy more than one item. It can't hurt to ask. And once you try it once or twice, it gets easier. Just be respectful of the vendor.
- Don't haggle with the artists. For those beautiful handmade items that take so long to make, the price is what it is, and it would be insulting to them to offer less.
- Have fun! And don't have "tunnel vision," looking for the perfect thing. Just relax and take it all in. Something will "speak" to you; for me, it's usually something totally unexpected!