With offerings of shopping, entertainment and food, customers can find treasures of all kinds when the Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market opens for the season today (March 28.)
Located in the heart of Amish Country, the flea market offers more than 55,000 square feet of shopping Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, March 28 marks the first day of the 2013 season. The event will be celebrated with shopping, drawings, food and live music.
Here, there is something special for everyone, said General Manager Januery Tango, who owns the flea market with her mother, Betty Zimmerman.
Especially in 2013, as the flea market has continued to grow to offer new attractions.
"It's been a wonderful journey. We've grown and learned a lot," said owner Betty Zimmerman. The family has experienced a whirlwind of growth, building onto the complex three times in only five years of operations.
"This is our fifth season, and now we are at 50,000 square feet all under one roof," said Tango.
The flea market facility is all one level, air conditioned and handicapped accessible. New features include concessions, a sightseeing deck and many more vendors.
"We started out with the red, blue and green buildings. The following year we built on the purple building, and then last year we built on the gold building," she said. "We had to expand our eatery because we outgrew that. Everything in the gold building is new for this year."
The flea market now offers approximately 270 vending spots, all filled with a variety of wares from an ever-growing list of vendors.
These vendors sell everything from fresh produce, jams and jellies and natural soaps to polyresin statues, handcrafted sterling silver jewelry and corn hole boards.
"We try not to duplicate anything. We also try to get stuff for men and women. We want a wide variety that we know is going to work for the customer and for the vendor," said Tango.
Braided rugs, candles, antiques, chainsaw carvings, power tools, spices, Amishmade furniture, designer purses, floral arrangements, sunglasses, air plants, chocolates, artwork … the list goes on and on.
From 2011 to 2012, the flea market saw a 7 percent increase of customers and a 20 percent increase in tour bus attendance, said Tango.
Due to popular demand, many additions have been completed since the flea market opened in 2009. The newest additions include a deli, bakery, bulk food store, creamery, open-pit barbecue and a hot and cold buffet.
In addition to Lillian's Sweet Cafe, there are many new food offerings for 2013. At Ken's Concessions, customers can get sandwiches, including the iconic trail bologna and swiss sandwich, as well as cheeseburgers, sides, soups and more. Each week on Thursday and Friday, Ken's will be serving lunch plates such as roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetable and slaw or turkey, dressing, noodles and corn.
Also new is the Amish Country Bakery serving varieties like monkey bread and cinnamon rolls, as well as cookies, bars, cakes, pies and fry pies.
The Bulk Food Deli will also be expanding for 2013 with an even larger selection of Walnut Creek Cheese products, including produce, beef jerky, cheese, Trail bologna, jams, jellies, candies and jarred goods. Tommy's Jerky & Smokie Outlet and a larger sunroom eatery were also added.
The flea market has not only expanded, but also offers entertainment and services for everyone who comes to the market.
"We have live entertainment every weekend and special events throughout the season," said Tango. These range from live music and Elvis impersonators to "An Artistic Experience at the Market" featuring local artisan's work, kids day and give-aways, all held throughout the market or on the outdoor sightseeing deck, which overlooks a view of the surrounding valley.
"You can sit up there and eat and when it's nice outside, we'll put the entertainment up there," said Tango.
Special entertainment will be held each Saturday throughout the season, beginning on March 30 with the String-A-Longs.
Weekly demonstrations include chainsaw carving, quilting and sewing.
With so much to offer, it's an experience like no other, said Tango.
Surrounded by Amish Country, the view, the friendly atmosphere and the family focus all contribute to this phenomenon. And it's not just shopping.
The flea market offers a playground for children, beautiful landscaping, live music and demonstrations. two 8-seater club car shuttles provide free transportation to and from the parking lot and the flea market's front door.
"They run all day long everyday," said Tango.
The flea market also offers parking for tour buses.
A small petting zoo featuring peacocks, roosters, pheasants and -- coming this year -- alpacas, keeps children occupied, while sports lovers can check out the big screen television constantly tuned to athletic events.
"We are very family-oriented," said Tango.
Before opening the Amish Flea Market, the family gained 15 years of prior flea market experience "so we have an idea of what people are looking for," she said.
The flea market staff is also like family, as each member either has a business at the market or is a past vendor.
"We like the family atmosphere, everyone is very friendly," said Tango, noting that vendors are local and from out-of-state. "They come from as close as 15 minutes away to as far as two hours away."
The Walnut Creek Amish Flea Market is located at 1900 State Route 39, Sugarcreek. For more information, call 330-852-0181.
Reporter Kelley Mohr can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.