Treasure Hunting at the Peterborough Festival of Antiques

“Something can be old, but it can be timeless.”

Cee Lo Green

Since I was a young girl, I’ve loved history and antiques. In fact, when I was just 18 I wrote “fill my house with antiques” on my bucket list. Early on in our marriage, I learned that Tim loved antiques and the thrill of the hunt too and off we went, gathering old, antique and second hand items to fill our home. Our favorite pieces are ones that come with a story, like a 1920s suitcase covered in stickers from journeys all over the world, the original owner’s name and address carefully handwritten on the inner lining.

Now that we live in a county with a history hundreds, if not thousands, of years older than our own, we have acquired even more amazing pieces. And one of our favorite places to acquire these pieces is the Peterborough Festival of Antiques (PFOA).

Held twice a year in the spring and the fall, the PFOA is quite possibly the largest vintage faire I’ve ever seen. Vendors from all over sprawl across acres of fields and fill the buildings and barns of the East of England Showground to the brim. In fact, even if you get there early, you likely can’t see it all in a day. Luckily, they are open for two days!

The first time we went to the PFOA last fall, we entered the large main building first and spent hours in there perusing tchotchkes, jewelry and china. While very nice to look at, this isn’t the type of thing Tim and I prefer and we were a little disappointed. We like the rusty, dusty, old things. We don’t mind chipped paint and a little bit of wear as we feel that it shows the history a little more and definitely fits the style of our 300 year old farm house. What we didn’t know, until about halfway through the day, was that all that type of stuff was OUTSIDE in the fields and in the barns of the fairgrounds.

This time, we started outside, looking specifically for a brown chesterfield chair to match our green chesterfield couch. It took us quite a while to find our chair, but along the way we found some great smalls including some vintage glass poison bottles, and an old metal bucket that is great for ice and drinks at a party. We also added to our dining room’s copper collection with a tea pot and hand wrought pot. Eventually, we found our amazing chesterfield chair and were able to even bring it home in the back of my Mini Cooper!

Since the PFOA is so huge, I wanted to share a few tips that we’ve learned over the last two events.

1 Take water! It can get pretty warm, especially if you’re outside and you don’t really realize how far you’re walking around when you’re going from booth to booth.

2 Choose one area and tackle that first. Do a little research and find out where the types of items you like are located. If you’re like us and like the old and rusty things, start outside or in the barns.

3 Skim but don’t skip. You’re bound to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of antiques and vendors, and it’s okay to skim though the aisles without inspecting each thing for sale. But make sure you’re not rushing on your way to look for just one thing, or you are going to miss a diamond in the rough. I learned this at smaller antique fairs when I would go around to the booths a second time and see several gems I didn’t see the first time around. Since the PFOA is almost impossible to do twice, I’d suggest to pay a little more attention the first time around.

4 Take a wagon or cart. Antiques are often oddly shaped, heavy and unwieldy. A cart or wagon is very handy carrying all your lovely purchases and even water or snacks. It made our life so much easier outside this time around.

5 Take time for a snack. PFOA does a great job of dotting food and drink trucks throughout the fair. Make time to sit down and reenergize with a snack or lunch so you can keep going! The next treasure might just be one aisle over!

6 Don’t worry about it being picked over the second day. There are plenty of antiques to go around at this festival. We’ve gone on the Saturday both times we attended this event and neither time did we get the feeling that maybe we had missed the best things. In fact, you might get better deals on Saturday as vendors are usually more willing to barter on the second day than on the first.

7Take Cash, but take your cards too! Most if not all vendors deal with cash only. But, if you don’t want to carry a ton of cash or if you find something you HAVE to have that costs more than the cash you have, make sure you have a card with you as they have ATMs (cash points) at the fairgrounds.

More information on Peterborough Festival of Antiques
The East of England Showground
Fall 2019 Dates: Friday 27 September – Saturday 28 September
Fri 27th September 2019 – Early Trade 07:00 – 10:00 Entry: £15.00
Fri 27th September 2019 – 10:00 – 16:30 Entry: £7.50 
Sat 28th September 2019 – 08:30 – 16:15 Entry: £5.00

Do you love the thrill of hunting for the perfect antique? What are your favorite shops or fairs to hit up? Do you have any tips for antique hunting? We are always learning new things on our antique adventure. Please share your tips with us in the comments below!

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