Every year during the first weekend in June, I’ve been going to an annual event about 100 miles north of Manhattan called the Country Living Fair. Held Friday through Sunday, this festival is chock full of vintage, antique, homemade and new home and garden goodies ranging in price, size, scale and decor.
Vendors from across the country haul their beautiful collections up to Rhinebeck, NY for the annual event but if you live somewhere else in the country, you might be in luck because they also host events in Nashville, Atlanta and Columbus.
Now that I’m a seasoned veteran of the fair, here’s my quick guide to getting the best out of it:
- EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE BEST STUFF & DISCOUNTS – If you’re going to go, it’s worth it to shell out a little more money to have access to the early bird special. You can shop at 8:30am, 1.5 hours before the general public has access. Plus, you will receive a 10% discount on your purchases from most vendors. The fair gets CROWDED and lines get very long. When you’re there early, you can really enjoy the experience and have the best view of different vendors’ items.
- BRING A CART – The fair offers complimentary bag check areas to help you continue to shop and not have to lug everything around. But the SAVVIEST shoppers bring a collapsible cart. These people mean BUSINESS. We finally decided to bring one this year and it was well worth it. We were able to do much more shopping (damage) in less time since we didn’t have to keep going to the bag check every half hour.
- SCOUT THE VENDOR LIST – Many of the exhibitors have an online presence. Try to check out what they sell in advance and make a priority list of what you’re looking for and/or what you might need. Better yet, see if they have an Instagram page. It’s a better visual depiction of what you’ll find. The vendors vary greatly – some are focused on antique collectibles while others may specialize in hand-carved ornamental objects or jewelry. If you’re looking for something in particular, you might be able to better find it if you pinpoint vendors most likely to have things you like. And remember – you want to focus your time on the vendors you like best, so a little pre-work to plot your stops is well worth the time!
- SKIP THE FOOD – There is food at the fair – but it’s more like carnival food. Instead, when you’re done shopping, get in your car and drive a mile down the road to the adorable village of Rhinebeck. There are very yummy cafes and restaurants
- DRESS FOR THE ELEMENTS – The fair is located on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Some years it’s hotter than hell, other years it’s wet, humid and cool. What’s great is that the vendors are largely covered but many of the floors are wood chips and sawdust. Check the weather before you go and be prepared for cooler temps. I suggest packing a light rain coat, comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting a little dirty (some people wear rain boots regardless of the weather) and sunglasses. You could easily need all these items in the time you’re there.
Last but not least, here are my top 10 favorite vendors year in and year out:
- Cutlery Couture
- JBS Mercantile
- More & More
- Scarlett Scales Antiques
- Bella Vintage Home
- French Laundry Home
- Gathered Comforts
- Blue Bird
- Hudson Valley Seed Library [check out more of my love for Hudson Valley Seed library here.]
- Beekman 1802