McCloud Flea Market returns for 40th year

Gene Eagle

The community of McCloud will be hosting its 40th anniversary of the McCloud Flea Market slated for Sunday, June 5 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main Street in the downtown Historic District, and the McCloud Chamber of Commerce is inviting everyone to “c’mon down.”

The community has the bragging rights of having the oldest and largest, uninterrupted flea market in Siskiyou County.

The annual fund-raising event was the idea of the McCloud Chamber 40 years ago, and today its popularity knows no bounds. Most buyers and sellers are from places as far away as Sacramento, Medford, Ore. and beyond.

Each year the first Sunday in June, Main Street is filled with shoppers and vendors selling antiques, collectibles, plants, food, toys, housewares, clothing, books, tools, arts and crafts, and other new, old and used items that “folks just can’t get along without.”

But the event wasn’t always held on Main Street. Well it was, but it wasn’t.

“It just hasn’t always been held in the middle of Main Street,” according to longtime resident and chamber member Bob Weider.

“It was set up on the lawn across the street from the McCloud Hotel and Post Office, just north of the old McCloud River Railroad building and train depot,” he said. “You couldn’t block off the street.”

Weider moved to McCloud from Marin County in August of 1972, and attended his first flea market in 1973.

“I think I’ve missed only two over the years,” he said.

Weider described how chalk lines were laid out in 10 foot squares on the lawn to designate where each booth would set. He said then, most of the stuff sold was garage stuff. “It cost $5 for a space, but kids and non-profit organizations got spaces free,” he said.

“The chamber had a hamburger, hot dog, and a beer and pepsi booth, set up in the parking lot in front of the loading dock of the railroad building. That was a time when other organizations were not allowed to operate food booths. The chamber held the monopoly on that,” he added.

Weider recalled “that about 1980 a lot of that changed.

Ron Stevens of the Planning Commission came to town and was able to come up with a way the chamber could close off Main Street for the day, allowing booths to be moved out onto the street. The main reason being that it was growing in popularity and simply required more space.

Things were really changing. Other food and drink vendors besides the chamber’s were being allowed to operate, and arts and crafts were introduced into the annual event, and a lot of homemade stuff, as well as a lot more musical and other entertainment.

Another longtime resident and chamber member Ed Simons, now deceased, stated in an interview a number of years ago that he and other members John Nabors, Bud Eslinger, Al Boyle, and auctioneer Mike Killian, went around the neighborhood collecting all kinds of things to sell and held an auction in front of the old railroad building on the loading dock to help raise money for the chamber.

“We ended up netting $2,500,” said Simons. “The money earned went to McCloud High School scholarships.”

This year vendor booths will again overwhelm Main Street and spill onto the lawns, where they started so many years ago. Organizers anticipate a good attendance and a great time for everyone.

If you are an early bird to this year’s market, as many are, you may want to start the day by having a pancake breakfast served up by the Firemen’s Association from 7 to 11 a.m. in the bank parking lot. Proceeds will benefit the Mccloud Volunteer Fire Department.

Friends of the Library will be on hand holding their book sale, and the Heritage Junction Museum will be open selling books and coffee, and the Elks selling donuts.

Lava Oasis Farms will have two booths this year and will be offering lots of vegetable starts.

“We’ll have fresh mixed salad greens, shards, Kale, spinach, bok choy, green onions and collards,” said owner Keith Peddinghaus.

“Also we’ve done some research and come up with very early season tomatos, taylor-made for the short season here in our area,” he added.

Lava Oasis Farm will also have their annual Farmers Market again this year on the front lawn of McCloud Hardware and General Building Supply. Business hours will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p. m.

Singer/songwriter Bruno Grossi will entertain on the front porch of the museum from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

In celebration of the Flea Market’s 40th anniversary, some exciting new additions this year will include an Antique Appraisal Road Show.

For $5, experienced and professional appraisers will give a verbal estimate of an item’s value. So bring in that old lamp, or old painting, or whatever treasure you’d like to know the value of. Written appraisals can be obtained for a higher fee.

From 1:30 to 3 p.m. you can learn first-hand about the exploits, and mysterious disappearance, of California’s “boulevardier” (fancy word meaning man about town) bandit Black Bart and his nemesis Wells Fargo Detective James Hume.

Old West Reenactors Lee Dummel, as Black Bart, and Vern Stephens, as James Hume, will be performing this show in the lively first person recreation of the Life and Times of Black Bart, upstairs in the McCloud Heritage Junction Museum.

Black Bart robbed stagecoaches throughout nine counties in the north state – three of them in Siskiyou County, one being only 10 miles from Yreka on Aug. 31, 1881. He took only Wells Fargo strong boxes and mail. He didn’t take the passengers money.

For eight years he dogged lawmen before being captured. Did his complacency lead to his capture? He was sentenced to prison and after serving his time, he disappeared. Where did he go? And most puzzling is, why in the world did he pull off 28 robberies, with an unloaded double-barreled shot gun?

Reenactor Dummel is a retired law enforcement officer and over the years has researched and compiled almost conclusive evidence of what happened to Black Bart after he disappeared.

Following the presentation Dummel will disclose his findings.

There is a suggested $5 donation that will help support the museum.

The McCloud Volunteer Fire Department will be having their 2nd annual Fireman’s Muster Saturday and Sunday, June 4 and 5 on Main Street and at Hoo Hoo park.

A parade, BBQ, firemens games, relay races, bucket brigade, pancake breakfast, dance and vendors are scheduled. For more information call 530- 925-0029.

The McCloud Flea market is sponsored by the McCloud Chamber of Commerce

For more info call 530-964-3113. A few booths are still available, and residents get a discount.