While the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market undoubtedly always will play second fiddle to the Champaign County Fair in terms of being the top draw for the Champaign County Agricultural Society (CCAS), it has built quite a name for itself over the past 50 years among antique dealers and collectors, flea market vendors and bargain hunters.
Sponsored by the CCAS, which was formed 175 years ago to operate the county fair, the local antique show and flea market got its start in May 1966 thanks to the Goddard family.
“My late parents (Howard and Elizabeth Goddard) were both involved with the fair board, and my dad decided some 50 years ago he wanted to do this show to make money for the Champaign County Agricultural Society,” said Steve Goddard, the show’s current manager.
To celebrate the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market’s 50th anniversary, Goddard is considering ways to show his appreciation to the vendors who have made the event what it is today.
“I can’t do too much because we keep all of our expenses low in order to make more of a profit for the fair board, but we will probably have a drawing of some sorts in October,” he said. “I’m looking at possibly giving away free rent for a month to one or more of our vendors.”
Held the first full weekend of every month (except August) at the Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana, 384 Park Ave., the antique show and flea market is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Goddard said the facilities at the fairgrounds allow for 400-plus vendors to be on-site during a given weekend. Four heated buildings provide space for 200 vendor booths, while the vast outdoor area provides room for another 200-plus vendors.
Five decades after the birth of the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market, the event continues to withstand the test of time, attracting approximately 3,500 visitors a month.
To uncover the reason behind the event’s success, one need not look further than the Goddard family’s willingness to go the extra mile in support of the fair board.
“I’ve traveled up and down the east coast visiting different venues to see what they are doing and to find out what is working and what isn’t working for them,” Goddard said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned throughout my travels is the key to a successful show is keeping the prices down.”
According to Goddard, similar shows charge vendors as much as $100 for a booth space (inside and outside), while admission costs range anywhere from $3 to $7 per day.
To keep the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market a monthly staple for vendors and visitors alike, Goddard keeps booth costs and admission fees below average.
“We try to keep our prices reasonable so sellers can make more money and buyers have more money to spend,” Goddard said.
Currently, visitors pay $1 for admittance into the fairgrounds, while vendors pay $37 to $50 for an inside space, $29 for an outdoor space under shelter, and $26 for an uncovered outdoor space. While the majority of the profits go directly to the fair board, a percentage of the total gate revenue goes to the local 4-H horse and sheep clubs, which alternate working the gates each month, Goddard said.
Following the shows today and Sunday, the Urbana Antique Show & Flea Market will wrap up 2016 with shows on Oct. 1 and 2, Nov. 5 and 6, and Dec. 3 and 4.
Vendors interested in reserving a booth for an upcoming show can do so by calling Goddard at 937-788-2058.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.