Top photo: On Memorial Day, Hazel Lynch took a moment from her shopping to pose for a picture with new managers of her family business, Croy Creek Trader's Fair, Todd Allen and Mark Allen.
Bottom photo: On Memorial Day, bargain hunters started arriving just after sunrise at the Croy Creek Trader's Fair.
Part of the lure of outdoor flea markets is the thrill of the hunt: Finding that one thing you just can't live without -- whether you need it or not -- striking a bargain and then taking it home. The other part is the people you meet.
That thrill and the opportunity to meet people were the reasons self-proclaimed "flea market lover" Mark Allen approached the Lynch family, owners of Croy Creek Trader's Fair, about managing the family business after its closure in late April.
"I've always dreamed of doing something like this," he said. "I've loved this place since my first visit here several years ago. These are my kind of people."
The Allen family assumed management of the trader's fair in May. Mark and his son, Todd, manage the event, while Mark's wife, Carol, and daughter-in-law, Missy, run the concession stand.
"Carol and Missy love it. They get to shop early because so many vendors come in on Saturday," Allen said. "There's a real family atmosphere here. The vendors and shoppers, who have came here for years, become friends. Vendors watch out for each other and if a shopper is looking for something, they'll find it for them. If you want it, it's here. If it isn't here, the vendors will find it for you. I'm always amazed at anyone who gets away from here without buying something."
The vendors have been very helpful, offering ideas and suggestions to Allen while he drives a John Deere Gator utility vehicle around the booths.
"After being here for many years, they know what needs to be done," he said.
More restroom facilities have been added and in the future, Allen expects to take action on vendor suggestions about more electricity outlets, new roads, parking improvements and expansion.
"We haven't changed the gate price, its still $3 a car, and we don't plan to change the (concept of the) fair itself. But there's 80 acres here, we've got plenty of room to grow," he said. "We want more vendors, more items and more for people to do while they're here."
Furniture, tools, clothing, farm animals, baseball cards, antiques, leftover yard sale items, retail closeout items and much more waits for casual shoppers, bargain hunters and master traders to find that perfect item, but the Croy Creek Trader's Fair didn't start that way.
In the early 1970s, men gathered at John Lynch's farm on Saturday mornings to test coon dogs' tracking skills against other coon dogs in the area, strike a trade for a better dog or sell one. After a few years, it only seemed logical for John to let a man set up a stand to sell dog food during the gatherings, according to his wife, Hazel Lynch.
"It just kind of grew from there," she said. "We started in the barn yard at first, then it grew so much, we had to expand. John cleared a wooded-area across from the pond and then back into the fields. We added out-buildings after a few years, and then toilet facilities. This was John's dream, and it just kept growing."
The Lynch family lived and worked the dream for 36 years, but it wasn't the same after John's death. This spring Hazel was ready to stop the trader's fair, but Mark Allen changed her mind. Although the family business will be run by someone else, Hazel doesn't mind passing her husband's dream on.
"Mark, and his family, has a lot of energy. He has a lot of ideas for going on into the future," she said. "He'll do fine. Anyway, after all those years of cooking all day long, and never being able to look around, I get to shop now."
The Croy Creek Trader's Fair takes place on the first and third Sunday of each month, beginning in June through the first Sunday in November.