It seems to come around a little quicker each year--the Fall Festival season. The Broom Corn Festival in lovely downtown Arcola, Illinois usually kicks it off for us (and that's this weekend), and it wraps up with the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, Indiana, which is the largest--and there are many more festivals in between. My wife loves them, and my only job is to not complain, and to haul all the stuff back to the car (and the rule seems to be the further away the car is parked, the heavier the items are she buys). One year she bought a tree. We were at a festival in Indiana, our car was parked in Missouri I think, and she bought a tree.
Of course, I enjoy it a lot more now that I have something to look for. I'm always looking to add to my odd collection of Masonic memorabilia. You just never know what you're going to find, and some of these festivals and flea markets are treasure troves full of Masonic treasures--or trash and trinkets as my wife calls them. As I've said before, one person's trash is anothers treasure.
Not my door knob, but similar
I've found all kinds of neat things over the years at these festivals. It's not hard to find the usual items, like tie tacks, cuff links, lapel pins, etc., but I'm always looking for the more unique items. One of the stranger things I've found was an old brass doorknob a few years ago.
It's surprising the range of Masonic items that are out there, from Knight's Templar swords, to pocket watches, to Past Master whiskey decanters. I even found an old meerschaum pipe a few years ago. Once you find these things, don't let them go. I still regret not buying that bronze monkey statue in Savannah several years ago (it was wearing a fez). I cheaped out, and now I'll probably never find another one like that.
I'll share one trick with you. When you go to these festivals and flea markets, they are often in small towns--don't forget to check out all the permanent shops (especially the antique shops) while you're there. And always go through the stacks. I found a really interesting old postcard of the Medinah Shrine in Chicago in a stack of old letters a few years ago. Very often, these antique shops will be a little more generous in negotiating price with you since they're competing against a huge flea market.
Masonic Jim Beam whisky decanter
Oddly enough, a couple weeks ago, I was in Chicago, waiting to eat at Pizzeria Due in downtown Chicago with a group of Masons and their wives. I looked across the street, and you'll never guess what was there. The original Medinah Shrine looking just as it did in that postcard (except it's a department store now).
So for those of you, like me, that look at the fall festival season as the beginning of your hunting season for unique collectibles, happy hunting (and if you don't collect, and you happen to stumble on something you think I'd like, remember that Christmas is just around the corner.)
is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011), A Shot After Midnight (2012) and Shot to Hell (2014).