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The Big Flea Market draws a crowd to the Fredericksburg Expo Center

 Henry Bevers is reflected in a mirror in his clothing booth while Melanie Burrell of Richmond browses the selection.
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Date published: 2/4/2013


Interested in buying a no-parking notice from President Ronald Reagan's first inauguration?

Would a 1930s-era popcorn maker look good in your house?

Or maybe you just need some buttons. Say, 10 for $1?

If so, this weekend's Big Flea Market at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center was the place to be.

Of course, not everyone had $2,250 to spare for an old popcorn maker as tall as a person. The hundreds of shoppers who filled the Expo Center's parking lot seemed happy to buy more modestly priced items.

Marty and Patti Goettler of Caroline County, for instance, paid a total of $32 for a fox skin and and an old book titled "Cowboy Sam and Porky." Patti Goettler remembers reading the book as a child.

But why the fox skin?

"For my girlfriend for her birthday," Goettler said with a laugh. The friend apparently is a fox hunter.

Patti Goettler described herself as an "interested amateur" flea-market shopper. She and her husband have been hunting for bargains since they married about 40 years ago.

The Flea Market is also a social gathering of sorts.

Many people stopped to talk to Goettler and pet the two greyhounds she had with her. She's training them to be therapy dogs.

The vendors seemed to enjoy chatting with people, too. The man who was selling the expensive popcorn maker started talking with a reporter who was taking a close look at the relic.

He said he saw a similar popcorn maker priced at more than $3,000 at another flea market.

That one had been refurbished, but he said he preferred the aged look of his. You can buy new-looking stuff anywhere, he said.

Terry Jones of Louisa County described the dealers as courteous and friendly. She said she started going to flea markets after retiring a few years ago.

"I was always with people," said Jones, who purchased an old toy fire truck. "So when I retired, I wanted to stay within that environment."

And she loves the thrill of finding an unexpected bargain. "Every once in a while, you get a great surprise," Jones said. "It's like Christmas during the year."

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402
Email: jbranscome@freelancestar.com

The Big Flea Market at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center had an array of items for sale. Here are some examples:

$2,250 for a 1930s-era popcorn maker

$395 for a Civil War cavalry sword

$975 for an 1817 Springfield musket

$125 for a "Schmidt's Cold Beer" lighted sign

$68 for a bottle of cologne from Paris

$58 for a no-parking notice from President Ronald Reagan's 1981 inauguration

$260 for a federal mirror circa 1830

$5 for a pool ball or three for $10

50 cents for a spool of thread.