Flea Market becoming a Garden City favorite





On Saturday's fifth annual Flea Market in the yard just south of the museum inside Lee Richardson Zoo at Finnup Park there were two sets of festivities taking place.

One was the patio sale, where there was an assortment of holiday and home decor, novelty toys, clothing and kitchen ware. The other was a full-on display of tents, booths, and vendors scattered across a busy yard of heavy, foot traffic, selling a myriad of products for browsing customers.

"We really made an effort to open it up to more people," said Steve Quakenbush, executive director of the Finney County Historical Society. "That's why we're calling it the 'Flea Market Art, Craft and Antiques festival.'"

The Saturday event, which ran from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., was more than arts, crafts and antiques. There were baked goods of peanut butter bread and apple bread, autographed sports collectibles, cosmetic products by AVON, fine jewelry, detailed paintings, pottery, and furniture.

This year's festival brought 34 booths, exceeding last year's number of 18. Quakenbush said the increase in booths was the biggest change in the flea market over the years.

"It is becoming a Garden City tradition now, and we hope to keep it going. I've been talking to our vendors and figuring out what we have done well and things we can do better, but a lot of them were too busy to talk. That's a good thing," Quakenbush said.

One busy first-time vendor was 14-year-old Kaci Bunch, who was selling splashy paintings of bright colors and rainbows designs. They take her about five or more hours to complete. Heads turned as people strolled by, eyes caught by her vivd paintings.

"I'm enjoying myself here, and my paintings give me a release in my life and is a bit of an escape," Bunch said. She was with her grandmother, who came to support her during her first appearance at the annual event.

Bunch had sold three paintings by 10 a.m. The first two were a a vibrant girl blowing rainbow bubbles, and a rainbow-striped zebra. The third was an elephant wandering through a savannah.

Justin Stevens of Holcomb arrived at the flea market early with his wife and two kids. They came to see what was all the fuss about as they were browsing around the baked goods table.

"We were just out enjoying the day, saw this going on, and we stepped in to check it out," Stevens said. "Any event like this to get people out-and-about is good for the community."

From a distance and throughout all the crowd chatter and sounds from the zoo, a loud, shocking discharge went off that had heads turning. But this was an item you didn't want close to your body, let alone your head.

"These are little nasty critters," said Debra Brungardt, Independent Damsel Pro of Damsel in Defense, who was selling stun guns and pepper spray.

That nasty critter was a "Tiny Takedown," a stun gun that gives off 1 million volts of electricity. But the jolting sound heard from yards away was the "Striking Distance," a 12-inch baton stun gun that emits 6 million volts of electricity to a person who tries to forcefully harm someone.

"This is geared towards women, but men need protection too," Brungardt said.

It was her second time at the event. The love of providing help and speaking with people who desire protection is what Brungardt likes most about setting up her booth in the flea market.

"I love talking to people about this product, and most people don't know we have this self defense in Kansas."

Jamie Johnson, who was there with his wife Penny and two children, Tripp and Maya, said he knew a flea market was going on, but had only gone to one or two in his life. He perused around the booths and found something more tangible than the items themselves — togetherness.

"This is great for the community," Johnson said. "It's an opportunity for not only the zoo and museum to get exposure being a community-minded focal point for Garden City, but it's an opportunity for smaller areas in southwest Kansas to come together at one place. It's great to be able to have that."

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