Glimpses of Brimfield
Approaching The Brimfield Antiques Fair for the first time, it is difficult to know what to expect. How big is Brimfield? What do they sell there? Who in the world goes there and why would anyone go?
I was first introduced to Brimfield by a friend who thought that as someone who enjoys taking photos, that I would be interested in the variety there, which includes the variety of people, of products and of set ups. Twelve years later and I still eagerly await its three events each year; a spring event in May, a mid-summer event in July and an early autumn event in September. Nestled into a sleepy New England village a living breathing community pops up like a mushroom three times a summer and the population and traffic increase exponentially.
I dare say that I am still a Brimfield newbie, but I can venture that Brimfield doesn't change much from year to year. Vendors travel there, set up camp and spend the week hoping for customers and conversation. Valuable connections are made and a network of communication develops among the vendors. Customers come by; some linger, some converse and some buy. Stories are exchanged about the history of merchandise. Where did they acquire it? How old is it? The vendors hold a great deal of accumulated knowledge of history and are happy to share it with those who are interested.
The seasons at Brimfield come and go. The vendors are there in the rain, in the mud, in the scorching sun. Winds blow and merchandise has to be protected. The vendors also need to protect themselves from the elements so elaborate set ups are constructed for shade and protection. Many vendors arrive in vans or campers and set up their wares which connect directly to their sleeping quarters for the week.
I have been collecting images of Brimfield and as I compile them now I wonder what I can learn from them. I believe that this series is an attempt to show color, whimsy, the carefree nature of Brimfield and the group of people who choose to pick up their stores and their collections and move them scores if not hundreds of miles away. Perhaps some of these vendors do this for the money. Also possible is that some of these people do Brimfield for the desire to hit the road and and for the opportunity to meet others. Looking at the photos, they indicate that many vendors are seniors. Is Brimfield something they have time for now that they are retired?
Reflecting inward, I can see that the people whom I have chosen to photograph all look a little different from me. Perhaps in these photos there is just a little bit of desire to live as freely, as openly, as colorfully as the people whom I have glimpsed at for this collection. Perhaps this is a collection of collectors in all their glory. I don't know very much about these vendors, whether they ultimately gain enjoyment from their Brimfield experience or if it something that they dread three times a summer. I know that they are on the road and willing to share a little of themselves with all of us. Brimfield is a little about rain, a little about people, a little about boredom, a little about selling and a lot about the magic that happens on about 100 acres three times a summer.