Sale away this weekend

Sarah Roberts

Shoppers, start salivating. This weekend belongs to you.

Four big-name, long-running fairs — Greenwich Village Art Fair, Beattie Park Artists Fair, Pec Thing and Alley Walk — coincide to make a shopper’s paradise.

Jeannie Manetta, an artist who moved last year from California to Belvidere, is making her first appearance at the Beattie Park Artists Fair. She jokes that she’s spent the past few weeks living in her basement, “frantically trying to build up my inventory.”

She specializes in watercolors, which she’s been doing all her life, and mosaic bowls, which she started making about a year ago. Manetta hunts for antique china, which she breaks into pieces and combines into bowls. A good portion of her business includes taking china sets that have been in a family for generations and using pieces of them to make a modern memento.

She admits people are sometimes initially horrified at her plans to smash heirlooms but are often thrilled with the result.

“If you have an incomplete set of china or a broken piece, rather than throwing it away, I can salvage it and make something sentimental out of it,” Manetta said. “It’s a fun thing to do, to make someone happy by making them something special out of something they normally would not have used.”

You can check out Manetta’s work at Beattie Park. Meanwhile, here’s a mini shopping guide for the weekend’s fairs.

59th Greenwich Village Art Fair

Theme: The Midwest’s oldest continuous outdoor fine art fair prides itself on attracting a varied crowd, from locals browsing to serious art collectors from other states. The fair won a 2007 Heart of Rockford Award for Best Festival/Special Event. “It hits every aspect, from serious art collectors to people who just want to see what’s out here,” said Sarah McNamara, community relations coordinator for the Rockford Art Museum, which uses proceeds from the event to maintain its programs. “It’s really neat that the fair has continued all these years and it crosses generations and social classes.”

What you can expect to find: Each of the 125 artists were juried in to the fair and, in addition to selling their wood and steel sculptures, paintings, photography, jewelry, etc., they are competing in various categories for cash prizes.

What you can expect to spend: Advance admission tickets, which are available through Friday at the museum office or any Alpine Bank, are $3. Day-of admission is $5, free for 12 and younger. That gains you entrance to the fair, which also features children’s activities and free live music. Food is available for purchase, and there are additional features like J.R. Kortman’s vodka lounge and a $6 champagne brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

Best time to stop by: If you’re serious about purchasing something, it’s best to get there early. Most of the items are one-of-a-kind pieces, McNamara said, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. If you’re more in the mood for browsing, getting something to eat and listening to some good music, McNamara recommends stopping by Sunday for brunch and a music lineup that includes Kelsey Wild, Midwestern Death, Fear & Desire and the Richard Douglas Band.

How to find a sweet deal: Chairman Scott Prine says there are sculptures that go for $3,000-$5,000, paintings for $200 and mixed media pieces for $50. “There’s something for everyone in every price range,” Prine said. “You’ll know it when you see it.”

If you go

What: 59th Greenwich Village Art Fair

Where: Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St., Rockford

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Info: 815-972-2881

36th Beattie Park Artists Fair

Theme: A few blocks south of the Greenwich fair, the Beattie Park fest features a variety of arts and crafts in a slightly lower-key atmosphere.

What you can expect to find: Jewelry, purses, clothing, paintings and photography are annual staples.

What you can expect to spend: Admission is free. Concessions are available for purchase. Haggling over prices here (and at Greenwich) is not as successful as it would be at a flea market or garage sale, nor is it recommended. Items can range from $5-$10 to $200 or so.

Best time to stop by: If you’re in the market for something particular or need to pick up a gift, get to the fair early Saturday. If you’re casually shopping, it’s still best to stop by Saturday before merchandise is picked over Sunday.

How to find a sweet deal: Check out the jewelry booths, which often offer package discounts and specials.

If you go

What: 36th Beattie Park Artist’s Fair

Where: Beattie Park, North Wyman and Park streets, Rockford

When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Info: Call 815-282-6661

27th Semi-Annual Pec Thing

Theme: Antiques and flea market goodies.

What you can expect to find: Two buildings reserved for antiques and more than 400 dealers with tools, quilts, books, toys, yard art, jewelry, stamps, postcards, furniture and glassware.

What you can expect to spend: Vendors set their own prices and rules for negotiating those prices. Admission is $3, free for younger than 12. Concessions are also available for purchase.

Best time to stop by: If you’re looking for something specific, organizer Amy Webster suggests purchasing an early shopper pass, which allows people to walk the grounds from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, a day before the fair opens. Vendors will be setting up, allowing people to get an idea of what will be on sale, and some may start selling to early shoppers Friday. Those with the early shopping pass also can start shopping as early as 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, before gates open to the general public at 8 a.m. The pass is $15 and can be purchased at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds office. If you’re in the mood to browse, mid-morning is typically a good time to stop by, Webster said.

How to find a sweet deal: That depends on your negotiating skills. With more than 400 dealers, it can be hit-or-miss when it comes to haggling, though negotiating on antiques is common, Webster said.

If you go

What: 27th Semi-Annual Pec Thing

Where: Winnebago County Fairgrounds, 500 W. First St., Pecatonica

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Info: Call 815-239-1641

25th Bethesda Covenant Church Alley Walk

Theme: Food vendors, kids activities and other entertainment dotted between 10 garages.

What you can expect to find: Typical garage-sale fare, from furniture and antiques to clothing, books and toys.

What you can expect to spend: Admission is free, and there is a shuttle service from the Rockford Plaza Shopping Center, Charles and 20th streets. The shuttle is free, though donations are accepted. You’re responsible for paying for whatever food you buy and negotiating prices on various sale items.

Best time to stop by: Again, if you’re serious about buying stuff on Saturday and you want the best selection, it’s best to get to the Alley Walk as early as possible. If you’re just browsing, mid-morning and early afternoon are good times to stop by.

How to find a sweet deal: In the last hour or so before the walk wraps up, vendors are typically very willing to offer major discounts and specials, organizers say. Items that are not sold are donated to The Salvation Army.

If you go

What: 25th Bethesda Covenant Church Alley Walk

Where: 2100 block of East State Street, Rockford

When: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Info: Call 815-397-4212