If you love all things rusty, junky, antique or vintage, there's only one place you should be this weekend -- starting today at 10 a.m. -- the Junk Ranch, at 11195 Centerpoint Church Road in Prairie Grove.
Not a fan of the old stuff? Not a problem. In the nine years since Prairie Grove residents Amy Daniels and Julie Speed started the event, it's evolved into a two-day extravaganza featuring live music, a wide selection of food trucks (those fried pies!) and plenty of families wandering the grounds with lemonade in their hands and dogs on leashes.
For co-creator Daniels, half the fun is meeting all of the people -- shoppers and vendors -- that she previously knew only through social media.
"We get super-excited when we get to meet the faces behind social media accounts," she says. "People come from all over the country to shop here. It's such a treat to watch them post their finds and to know that pieces from our event end up in homes over 1,000 miles away."
One reason for the Junk Ranch's national reputation -- it's been featured in numerous national magazines and blogs -- is its size. Nine years in, the event features around 250 booths and is the largest open-air flea market in the Northwest Arkansas area.
Hard to believe it all started out as a tiny, 30-vendor market on the small grounds of the Viney Grove Community Center in Prairie Grove. By mid-morning of that first sale, the designated parking lot was jam-packed and Speed was busy directing shoppers to overflow parking. That's when the duo knew they had a hit on their hands. When they started shopping for a larger venue, the only requirement was that they stay local.
During the two days of the Junk Ranch -- held twice a year, spring and fall -- thousands of shoppers and vendors flock to the Prairie Grove area, spending thousands of dollars on gas, lodging and food. Area businesses like antique malls and flea markets get a boost as well. For Speed and Daniels, both Prairie Grove residents, that's important.
"I love the community spirit of it," says Daniels, who takes great pride in the fact that many of her dealers, food vendors, and musical acts are locals. "We love that we can give back to our town."
What you can expect this year: a wide selection of vintage finds, from high-end antiques to rusty barn finds; several of the area's best musical acts; and pumpkins and fall flowers.
"There really isn't a reason why anyone's porch or Thanksgiving table shouldn't be amazing after this show," says Daniels.