Trade Days: Bargains, Burgers, Beanine Babies
You wait in a long line of cars, walk blocks from your parking spot while listening to the drift of music float to your ears on the slightly cool breeze. You kick along pushing up dust yet still the smell of sausage on a stick wafts your way from the little vendor booths making your mouth water. You wiggle through crowds and tables with jars of homemade delights, art of all kinds. No you are not at the South Texas State Fair but Bridge City’s first weekend Trade Days.
From Tobby the Clown to a group of musicians who enjoy calling themselves “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” it has all the trappings of a fair atmosphere. To bring a monthly Trade Day to Bridge City is the brain-child of David Burch and Marci Townsend. Leasing the facility and grounds of the old Mann’s Entertainment Complex their vision reaches beyond the once-a-month event. The idea began as a seed just over a month ago when David visited the Orange Trade Days with its network of vendors showing their wares. It was a juncture for him.
“I started asking around. You know most of these people all go to most of the same places to sell. I asked if they had anything going on the first weekend of the month, they said no,” David explains. “Of course now and then it may collide with Winnie’s market days but this isn’t the only thing we plan to do here.”
The grounds still have batting cages and bumper boat pool, an indoor café area and outdoor restroom facilities. The potential to accomplish more is still in plain sight.
“We are also thinking of events for kids. Things that go along with specific holidays, maybe haunted house for Halloween. We thought about having bunnies out here for this but we were too late,” Marci says.
With only a month to set up vendor spots and get the word to dealers and the public there wasn’t much extra time to plan for rabbits to make the show.
“It’s going well for a first weekend. Usually Fridays are slow, but the response has been good enough that I am hearing great reports from everyone. They have already pretty much cleared what they needed to pay for their weekend of being here,” David says, “ Its been busy all day.”
The trade’s people seem in agreement. Mr. T’s Pork-A-Bob is busy grilling up blistering hot meat on a stick while T-Rays Fajita is smoking and cooking up their specialty. Tobby the Clown stands among a group of children merrily producing balloon animals, flowers and hats as he playfully mocks and jokes with them. Their smiles and laughter are infectious.
Inside is a splash of color and commodities. Arlene Rust has a table filled with jarred goods. Canned peaches, salsas, pickled eggs, okra and jalapenos plus sweet jams and preserves and spicy sweet pickles. Another booth boast of beautifully hand crafted antique ceiling and wall tile art. Made from the old tin ceiling panels, they are rustic and shabby chic décor with modern nuensces. Their owner and creator, Gladys Roebuck has been making her living applying her craft to these old pieces of building material for twenty-three years. She smiles sweetly, seated in her pristine booth.
“It’s been very nice. Busy.” She has seen plenty of people come and go. “Some know what they are looking for and some don’t.”
Whether one finds what they are looking for or not they are sure to find something among the treasures. Various craftsmen have a myriad of quality hand made crosses, some wood, others made of wire, even cross necklaces made of nails and twine. Clothing, candles, candy and cactus. Beanine Babies, tools and antique fans. Vintage spoon jewelry or make-your-own jewelry, the finds are endless.
After a successful ribbon cutting the smiling owners of this eventful affair seem a bit happy and overwhelmed. There are headaches too with some types of plans that you cannot foresee. Even successful ones. But for this first weekend they all seem to be put on a back burner as the music continues to play. Fiddler, Ralph Richardson plays a mournful tune along with Ora Oubre on the steel guitar, Charles Hartman on keys, and Darrel Segura singing and strumming his acoustic.
“We aren’t sure about everything yet. This has all happened pretty fast. I have been busy. Within two weeks of putting the word out we would do a trade days here, all the indoor spots were filled. Since then it has been non-stop,” David’s eyes constantly look around at the people and activities. “We are wanting to bring more offerings to the community. This place won’t just sit the rest of the month. We want to offer kids activities. We are also considering doing a once a month community garage sale, maybe some car shows, hunting and fishing expo, annual crawfish festival possibly. We are just getting started.” He waves at someone’s greeting, “This is what I am doing now.” A smile comes across his face. He wants this to be successful, not only for himself but also for the community.
Commerce is good for a town so heavily damaged by the ravages of two hurricanes in less than a decade. Entrepreneurial spirit will play a dynamic role in generating traffic and interest in Bridge City. Local events, activities and entertainment keep money closer to home for continued repair of the homes and hearts of those who love this town. David and Marci are two who live here, make their home here and have their hearts here.