Shoppers and Vendors Meet at the Vineyard’s Oldest Outdoor Venue on Wednesdays and Saturdays
through late June and August for Unique and Handcrafted Finds
by Caroline Cardoso
With signs directing islanders and visitors down the unwinding north road to the Chilmark Flea Market, it is hard to miss the small location just before Menemsha in an open, and sunny field scattered with tents and up to 40 different vendors.
with the sun and heat picking up around noon, the early birds of the Chilmark Flea Market are the first to arrive at 9 am when the market officially begins. every Wednesday and Saturday through late June and august, vendors and artists come together at the Chilmark location for a market filled with handmade and eye catching wares including jewelry, clothing, photography, antique furniture, home goods, and even soaps and lotions.
If you find yourself catching too much sun, you can always sneak over to the shadiest spot there: the food stand—offering chilled water, ice cold lemonade and freshly baked goods. with easy—and free—parking and a
friendly atmosphere, the quiet location of north road makes the market perfect for a summer morning or afternoon.
Since 1967, the Chilmark church community has kept the market alive. From originally starting off on the steps of the Chilmark church, to the growth of the market stretching down North Road, every day at the
flea market is a day filled with shoppers and swarming with crowds and new vendors. Even thirty years after the first opening of the market when it was moved to a field on Middle Road in 1997, there was no
stopping the crowd from creating what the market is today.
Now marking its third year at the North Road location, and last year marking its 45th anniversary, newcomers to the flea market have always been welcome. take it from Susan Balaban, a feng shui master handcrafting bracelets with a meaning. Balaban started setting up her tent at the market 4 years ago and says the crowds and the heat are the elements of the market to beat, but it’s all worth it—even the early preparation is exciting.
“When i’m packing up i try to keep everything together and then spread them out, so it actually doesn’t take too long to pack and set up in the morning,” Balaban said. “Sometimes i am scrambling to make new
bracelets in the morning [when] i sell out of a certain kind that are selling well that, but in general
it’s not nearly has stressful as what others here have to do to pack and get here early.”
The goal of Balaban’s gemstone and Swarovski crystal bracelets are to inspire others, and the flea market helps spread this message. “stones bear witness. stones tell the stories. wear the wisdom,” is the quote written on her cards piled on the table set up at the flea market along with the array of the hand strung bracelets. And the wisdom can definitely be found at the Chilmark Flea Market.
Like Balaban, Tom May’s photography stand attracts lots of visitors and shoppers. May’s photography has been awarded many prizes like the annual agricultural society Fair’s best in show for the junior division and a first place prize in nature category. The market is here to provide vendors a place to show off their work and passion and Susan May, tom’s mother, says this has always been his passion for many years and always will be.
“[Tom] is 19 years old and he’s had a camera in his hand since he was in fifth grade, he picked it up and never put it down,” Susan said.
Being that the market is the island’s oldest outdoor venue, it has been here long enough to welcome the old and the new. The shaded tents and land breeze is the perfect touch to keep the market cool.
Make your way over to some quality handmade items from Vineyard craftsmen, artists, and other vintage treasures at the famously known “Flea”; from morning till mid-afternoon, it is all worth the trip.