Lodi Antique Faire
One of the reasons I wanted to move to the Cali Coast, was to be able to meet up with one of my three sisters at antique faires. This weekend I drove to Lodi to junk around with my sister Janis.
For years, my sister has been telling me that the Lodi Antique Faire, which is held each spring and fall, is ‘the best.” She was right. It is fabulous!
Lodi is about 45 minutes from Sacramento set in a rural area of wine vineyards and local breweries that produce amazing beer. We arrive around 8am, park and roll our carts to the main street where vendors are set up in front of the most darling antique shops, consignment stores, restaurants, wine tasting rooms and beer pubs.
The night before the faire, I was daydreaming about what treasures await. For some reason I was hoping to find old, weathered, painted skateboard decks. Omg. There they were, stacked in a pile for only $2 each. I imagined them mounted as wall art, as their markings and characteristics make each an original. It was the talk of the faire, as people stopped me and asked where I found them, as I responded that I had bought them all.
I must describe my sister Jan. She loves junking and talks about every item she picks up. While it’s hard to concentrate on your own finds, it’s hard to avoid hearing her calling my “faux” name across the crowds, “Ming lei, Ming Lei,” waving an item I should look at. I love shopping with her. And for some reason, her soft voice when asking a dealer for a discounted price, just melts them, and they cave to whatever she is offering. I quickly pick up on this and now have her negotiating with the vendors for me, as it is saving me alot of $.
We come across the cutest concrete alligator for the garden, which we take a photo of, but for some reason, put it down, as we are distracted by other things in this booth. As we turn back to pick up the cute alligator, it is gone! Some gal came in right behind us, scooped it up, paid the vendor, and left us in the dust. We were too slow. We will regret it for our whole life.
There is so much cool stuff at Lodi. Great ephemera, vintage sporting goods, leathers, tools, advertising, and probably the coolest iron garden chairs I have ever seen.
Layers of old paint gave these chairs the best patina and they were so very sold before we even got to that space. I wanted them so badly. They also had a great iron cart that was sold, and I now regret passing up on that dealer’s six solid teak folding chairs with high backs for only $200. It’s difficult to consider furniture without having a truck, and that seems to be the time where there is so much cool furniture to buy. When I bring a truck, I find nothing but “smalls.”
As our carts are sagging with tons of stuff we have found, we decide to take them to the car, relieve ourselves of being “cart people,” and rush off to find a beer pub.
The Lodi Brewing Company is the coolest restaurant, complete with huge copper Bohemian brewing casks and an irrisistible bar menu. We order bowls of chili and the most outrageous Bleu Cheese Fries swimming in a garlic cheese sauce, as my sister explains all the flavors on the Lodi Brewing Beer Flight, which gives you a chance to taste the different ales, lagers and malts. My favorite is the Western Pacific IPA.
Back out on the streets once again, our energy has faded somewhat after beer, chili and fries, so we decide this is a good time to look through all the paper items, which we always pass up for later, if time allows. I buy old road maps and tiny books from the late 1800’s by Shakespeare and Robert Louis Stevenson for only $1 each. These would make for charming stocking stuffers as their tiny size is so adorable. We are also now trying on vintage clothes. My sister loves this gray taffeta long skirt and buys a cropped faux leopard-print jacket for her daughter, as I purchase a pink 70’s dress with a ruffled hem, as retro dresses are scarce.
We wander into a vintage consignment store and somehow get separated as I am in search of the final purchases of the day. Wine always sounds good at about this time, so I take a seat in a wine & jazz bar called the Rusted Mic. Trying to reach my sister by phone, it goes straight to her voicemail, which means her phone is off. Oh God. I don’t know how this happened, but I just glanced outside and saw a flash of pink neon in the crowds as I run out barefoot yelling my sister’s name. What are the chances I would look outside at that very moment. The other alternative would have been we would have never found each other and would somehow end up at the car, totally exhausted and grumpy.
As we are almost at the end of the street, we spot a wooden chest of drawers. It is so rustic and we figure it has been sold, as it’s in the back of the vendor’s booth, but it is not. At the end of these faires, sometimes you can get a great deal, as dealers are anxious to not load up furniture. This girl, who looks ready to pack up, offers me the chest of drawers for $5. FIVE DOLLARS!!!! We have no room in my sisters SUV. Ah, I remember seeing a couple who are dealers at my antique mall, and they are only 2 booths away, so I talk them into taking the chest back to Monterey for me. What a relief, and “what a great deal!” FIVE DOLLARS!
Vendors will let you leave your purchase with them, but it’s key to remember where they are. Writing down a space number at Alameda or Rose Bowl will work, but at a street faire, you must make note of a surrounding landmark, so you can find it again. I have yet to forget an item at a faire, but sometimes it is difficult to find that vendor again before total panic sets in.
Our last pickup is a pair of bright yellow child’s wicker chairs with red cushions from a shop owner who has a huge green bird aviary for only $75. We cannot even begin to consider it without having a truck, so pass it by.
I am already scheduling next Spring’s Lodi Street Faire onto my schedule. It was loaded with great stuff, great prices, and surrounded by fabulous stores and restaurants. I’m hoping that huge green birdcage aviary is still at that store and will take a truck next time. Sure. Next time we’ll probably find only tablecloths and pottery, but we will have a truck just in case.
Lodi Antique Street Faire . Spring & Fall . Admission Free . 7-3pm
And all our favorite “faire dogs. . .”