Last week, I reminded folks that it is spring in Central Vermont, although it seemed like Mother Nature apparently had other thoughts. I really am confident that we are well on our way. Mud season is here and once it clears out, get ready for some wonderfully warm weather and enjoying the great outdoors.
The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce has a very diverse membership. The many businesses that are members are truly representative of the mix of businesses that call our part of Vermont home. Some of the state’s largest businesses are members, as are sole proprietorships. What has that got to do with spring? I spoke recently with a true entrepreneur, John Farr, a member of the chamber’s board of directors about one of his many projects.
In addition to being a partner in Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponic, he is owner of Farr’s Tree Service and the Waterbury Flea Market. Located at Farr’s Field on US Route 2 a little more than a mile west of the Waterbury rotary, the Waterbury Flea Market is another world.
Up to 1,000 people visit on the weekends poring over a veritable smorgasbord of items from up to 100 vendors. “It’s like a treasure hunt out here,” he said. “You never know what you’ll find. Some folks who live in more out-of-the way areas use us as a place for their yard sales.” Everything from old furniture, antiques, paintings, jewelry, tools, collectibles and more can be found there, even the occasional kitchen sink. “I found and bought a pair of 3 1/2 feet tall M&M candy display pieces. Red and yellow. They look great,” he told me.
It’s not all about picking over the items the vendors are selling. The concession stand offers a variety of foods as well as cold drinks, and hot coffee or tea.
One may not think so, but it is one of the engines that helps to drive our small business economy. Visitors from across the state come to Waterbury every weekend to see what’s new. Out-of-state folks hear about the Waterbury Flea Market and come, stay and buy. This is the fortieth year of the Waterbury Flea Market, and Farr has been at its helm for the last four years.
Last year, the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts brought the 61st Vermont Antique and Classic Car show to the site. They will be back this year from Aug. 9-11. On display will be 500 to 700 cars. Along with the Waterbury Flea Market vendors, things will be hopping there. “About 12,000 visitors came last year,” said Farr. “It is a great addition to Waterbury. We’re glad that they relocated here. It makes for a fun weekend.”
The site will soon see some very significant changes. “The location has been given Act 250 approval to install a new mobile bathhouse,” said Farr. “A new leach field will allow for new restrooms and showers to be available. There will also be a pumping station to handle waste from RVs.”
The Waterbury Flea Market is the largest and oldest in the state. Its longevity is a tribute to Farr and the lengths he goes to ensure that everyone who visits enjoys their time at the Waterbury Flea Market. It will be open from the end of April through the last Sunday in October. Stop by. The hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekend. See what the Central Vermont entrepreneurial spirit looks and feels like.
William Moore is the president and CEO of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce.