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Antique show to draw thousands to Springfield

Springfield has a reputation as a Midwest mecca for antique lovers, and a three-day show this weekend could draw more than 20,000 people to the Clark County Fairgrounds.

The Springfield Antique Show and Flea Market Extravaganza will feature as many as 2,000 vendors, and draw thousands of visitors who will fill hotel rooms, eat in local restaurants and visit other stores and businesses throughout the weekend, said Jon Jenkins, a co-owner who has managed the event since 1999.

The economic impact from the show hasn’t been studied, Jenkins said. However, local economic development officials have previously estimated that antique enthusiasts spend about $103 million in Clark County annually. The region has almost 200,000 square feet of retail space between three area antique malls alone.

The show this weekend will draw shoppers from as far as California, but many Clark County residents aren’t aware of its impact, Jenkins said.

“It’s really probably the largest single-owner show of its kind in the country,” he said.

The show started in 1969, and Jenkins and a few other co-owners took over the event in 1999. Part of the reason it’s grown steadily over the years is because of Springfield’s reputation as a destination in the antiques industry, along with its location and easy access to I-70, he said.

“This is really sort of a destination event for our industry,” Jenkins said. “People schedule their business years around it.”

Annie de Jongh, of Minneapolis, will travel to the Springfield show for the third time this year. Her career in antiques started in jewelry, but this weekend she will be selling antique boots with the backs cut and flipped inside out and decorated.

She travels to about one show a month, but said her best business is in Springfield.

“It’s my best show in the country, hands down,” de Jongh said. “The crowd that they draw is such a big, eclectic group with so much foot traffic you can’t help but do well.”

The fairgrounds hosts monthly antique shows, but the extravaganza takes place twice a year in May and September. The event is one of the largest at the Clark County Fairgrounds, said Allan Hess, executive director of the Clark County Agricultural Society, which manages the fairgrounds.

The fairgrounds also host numerous other events throughout the year, including gun shows, train shows and the annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

With 2,000 vendors, Jenkins said this weekend’s event should have something for everyone who visits.

“I would really defy someone to come out and say, ‘I didn’t find one thing I liked,’” Jenkins said.

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