Thousands Hunt For Treasure At Canton's Trade Days As Part Of A 166-Year Tradition | KERA News

Thousands Hunt For Treasure At Canton's Trade Days As Part Of A 166-Year Tradition

Sep 28, 2016

Every month, vendors and artists from around the country gather in Canton. About an hour east from Dallas, the city is home to First Monday Trade Days, a tradition that’s been around for more than 160 years. 

Kim Seipp drove about an hour to Canton on Saturday morning. She says she's looking for something special.

“Today we got yard art and had a custom metal piece made to go in the bedroom and little bit of everything.” 

Seipp is shopping around with a friend, pulling a loaded wagon. She’s a First Monday veteran.

“Oh man, there’s so many unique things, and it’s kinda cool to see people’s talents and some of the things that they make by hand," she says. "You always want to support that, and it’s just kinda neat to see everybody’s thoughts and creativity."

A flea market on steroids

Canton's Trade Days is one of the largest flea markets in the country. Henry Lewis is a businessman who’s lived in Canton for more than 50 years. He says the tradition dates back to the 1850s.

“Over a hundred years ago...on Monday...it was a court day on Monday and around the courthouse, people would bring their livestock and their wares and their vegetables and so forth.”

Each month, on the days leading up to the first Monday, about 2,000 vendors gather on 60 acres of land. They sell everything, from used DVDs to custom-made trash cans to art that can be described as...unique.

Jerry Garnett has been a vendor for 28 years. Deer chandeliers are his specialty.
Credit Javier Giribet / KERA News

Jerry Garnett is a vendor. He has sold antiques at the First Monday Trade Days for 28 years. 

“Yeah, we’ve been selling these antiques and most of it’s architectural iron and antique furniture," Garnett says. "We sell elk chandeliers, deer chandeliers, all kinds of chandeliers. Just a little bit of it all!”

His table set-up is beneath a huge tent, and chandeliers are everywhere.

“Now, the deer and elk chandeliers we build from scratch," he says. "Wild Bill is my running buddy on this. He does all the laying out and everything, and builds them. He can do 'em in about two weeks maybe.”

Jimmy Hobbs sits a couple rows away from Garnett. He learned how to carve wood by watching a TV show and now sells sculptures.

“It’s all one piece of wood," Hobbs says. "I cut it out with a chainsaw, and I just cut out around it. I kinda draw as I’m cutting and work my way around the cuts like that.”

Hobbs brought 20 carvings to sell including a deer with her calf, a wolf and the bust of a Native American chief.

Robert Dix drove over from Carrollton. The retired marine has his eye on one of the artist’s carved bald eagles.

“It’s sitting on a helmet, which is sitting in the butt of a gun and stuck in the ground between two boots," Dix says. "That stands for somebody that has gotten killed in combat.”

Jimmy Hobbs makes wood carvings with a chainsaw and sells his sculptures at the Trade Days.
Credit Javier Giribet / KERA News

The veteran immediately recognized the symbol. He'd just never seen it as a sculpture.

“I was in Vietnam and I went to a funeral for six of them," he says. "And it’s one of the biggest things that made an impression on me. Something like this is very, very precious for a service guy."

Like a deer chandelier or a carved eagle, memories made in Canton are one of a kind.