Adventures: Coburg Antique Fair, Coburg, Oregon

September 12, 2011 · 4 comments

The Coburg Antique Fair is an annual one-day event that always occurs the Sunday after Labor Day in Coburg, Oregon. Coburg is a beautifully quaint and classy town with a thriving group of antique shops and antique enthusiasts. The Fair shuts down several blocks in the center of town, and hundreds of vendors set up booths lining the streets.  Food vendors fill the city park, and a great band plays live music in the gazebo.

I LOVE this event. This was my fourth time partaking, and I seriously had been looking forward to it since last year’s fair. Two years ago, I even brought Charlotte when she was only two weeks old. It was a little complicated logistically, but I certainly wasn’t going to miss it.

On Sunday, I left my house at 6:00 AM and headed south on Highway 99 W. When I turned on Lingo Lane near Harrisburg, the sun was just up over the horizon, and I snapped this photo. It was pretty spectacular (more so than my photo). The whole drive was beautifully scenic lined by fields of pumpkins, mint, sweet corn, and what used to be wheat. I pulled into Coburg at about 7:30 AM.

As I approached the first booth, I felt this almost panicky feeling that I needed to get through all the booths really fast to make sure I saw everything before the good stuff was gone, but I also wanted to take the time to look at every single item under each tent. It was totally ridiculous, I know, but I just was so dang excited.

In general, I hate shopping. It’s stressful and usually unsuccessful. Coburg (like Etsy) really brings out the consumer instinct in me, however, because everything for sale is crazy interesting. There is everything from garage sale junk to gorgeously restored oak furniture with a $6,000 price tag. Some booths are really well displayed and organized, and some have bins of rusty implements to rummage through. Items are underpriced, accurately priced, and overpriced, sometimes all in the same booth. The fun is in the hunt…for the best items and the best prices.

Galvanized washtubs and buckets were all over the place.














I decided I could live without the diver’s helmet and the three-foot-long wrench.

There was a lot of enamelware. Some in good shape, some not. Some really expensive, some not.

Several booths were exclusively selling vintage linens. I particularly liked this one.

There was less furniture at the fair this year compared to years past, but there were still quite a few really nice pieces.

I want one of these giant copper kettles so badly even though they are expensive, and I have no idea what I would do with one.

If you’re into collectable dishes (which I am not), the Coburg Antique Fair is the place to be.

I am such a sucker for cast iron. I could have spent $700 on pots and pans of various sizes and shapes. This particular vendor had cleaned and seasoned all his wares, and it was hard for me to walk away without buying anything.

What is this contraption? Henry and my best guess is some sort of skein winder or something. Half the fun of the fair is picking up various items and asking my fellow shoppers what it is or what it’s for. I had so many great conversations over the course of the morning on that topic and others.














The chair was easy to pass up, but the crock with the spigot really had my attention. I’m also a sucker for crocks even though I don’t use the ones I have very often. This one (with a nice lid) was priced at $150, a little too steep for my discretionary-spending budget.

In the past, I’ve purchased several kitchen gadgets in Coburg. This booth had things particularly nicely displayed as opposed to the booths with cardboard boxes full of small tools and implements.















The spinning wheel was cool, but I don’t need one of those. The bells, on the other hand, had me hooked. They made the best tinkly sound and would have been great for an old-time mercantile door or something. For $50, I made myself walk away. Sadly.

Silverware is not my thing.

Typewriters aren’t my thing, either, but I saw several.

Random junk.

There was a ton of kitschy kitchen stuff.

Piles of wooden spoons and lots of rolling pins.

It was really satisfying to see things that I already have in my home or things that I’d bought in Coburg in the past that were priced significantly higher than what I paid. I think I only noticed one or two things for sale at a lower price (by a few dollars) than I paid a year or two ago.














I do have a thing for copper. Who doesn’t love copper? I also thought it would be cool to have my own corn shucker, but I passed on that one.

I kinda wanted to photograph EVERYTHING to capture the day as best as I could. You can see lots more of my photos in my Coburg Antique Fair set on Flickr.

Below are the things I did buy. Overall I came home with fewer items than last year, but I still call it a success.

I got another cast iron muffin/popover pan. I saw this one and was himming and hawing about whether or not I really needed it. It was marked $10. I chatted briefly with the proprieters of the booth and then walked away. Three booths down the line, I saw the exact same pan for $20, so I immediately turned around and decided that I really had to have one. I ended up paying $8, and later saw another one marked $39. There’s nothing like feeling as if something is a bargain to spark object lust.

I paid $8 for this potato ricer. I’ve been looking for one for a while because I read about making spätzle with a ricer and have been wanting to try it for ages. Plus it’s cute and not too big to fit in my house.

There was a lot of jewelry at the fair which I mostly breezed past. Something about this pendant spoke to me, however, so I took it home for $14.

I love this cleaver! It’s huge (9″) and heavy and slightly abused, but it’s going to be awesome. I paid $22.

Here’s a nice, solid brass soap dish that I think will find a home out by the bathtub on the porch. It was $5.

I got a whole collection of hooks at several different stops for a total of $27. A person living in a small home can never have enough hooks. I think the pair of brass ones will go outside with the soap dish for bath towels and such.

Last year I bought a rake head to use for hooks. I was on the lookout for another one or two but only found this little guy. It was $4.

I didn’t need another cast iron pan, but I thought the shape of this one was so great. For $10, I had to take it home with me.

I also paid $5 for parking, had a $8 delicious Cart de Frisco sandwich, bought $5 of quilt raffle tickets, and used up less than $10 of gas bringing the grand total to about $126. Over the course of the next year, I will have days where I spend more than $126, but there’s something about the fair that makes me feel so extravagant and a little excessive. It was worth it, and I already can’t wait for next year’s Coburg Antique Fair.

On a side note:

I knew I wanted to photograph and blog about this event, so I brought my camera along with me. I walked up to the first booth and just started clicking away. About thee stalls in, I snapped a couple photos, and the vendor came up to me very upset, told me that I couldn’t take photos without asking for permission, and she instructed me to delete any photos I’d taken in her booth. This totally caught me off guard, but I did as she asked. In the politest way I could muster, I inquired if she thought it was standard procedure to ask before photographing someone’s items. She apologized for being rude (she wasn’t actually rude, but she did surprise me), and said that her truck had been broken into a few days earlier, and she was kind of on edge about the possibility of someone scoping out her stuff to steal at a later time. 

After that, I asked to if I could take photos at all the other booths. One woman thanked me for asking and confessed that she hated it when people take pictures without asking. All the other vendors could have cared less and thought it was kind of strange/funny that I would even think to ask. 

The combination of fancy-looking (but not actually that nice) camera and the formality of asking for permission to take photos led  many folks to ask me if I was “from the newspaper” or if I was “a photographer.” Because I’m relatively new to both blogging and photography, I felt totally awkward explaining to people that no, I’m ‘just’ a blogger. This response got a lot of blank stares and comments like “so you mean I’m not going to be famous?” with a little laugh. I did hand out a couple of my blog business cards to people that seemed like they cared, but mostly I just pretended that I was taking photos for my own personal interest. Maybe in a few years when I’m more comfortable in the role of blogger and the community takes blogging more seriously, I’ll have an easier time explaining myself.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura September 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

thanks for bring me along!


Summer September 13, 2011 at 10:12 am

Good god, I wouldn’t have been able to contain myself. And I totally would have purchased that typewriter.


Amanda W. September 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

Looks like a really really fun day. I would have loved to go. I have been meaning to find myself a good used, seasoned cast iron pan for years now and am not really sure what my problem is. Thanks for sharing all of the photos. I’m going next year!


dixiebelle April 26, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Fabulous. Love all the photos, and you got some great bargains.

I always ask before taking photos, esp. for blogging. I also wouldn’t post photos of people’s faces, or anything too identfying. I do lack courage or motivation sometimes to take photos of public places/ markets/ shops etc. because having to ask every person if it’s OK is time consuming and sometimes, it’s hard to get decent photos because people get in your way!


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