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You never know what you’ll find at First Monday in Canton. Photo by Jennifer Bovee.

When I called my mom in late April to wish her a happy birthday and an early Mother’s Day, I asked how she wanted to celebrate. She said she wanted to go to Canton for First Monday Trade Days, the vast monthly flea market in East Texas, “before it gets too hot.” The first weekend of May was already very warm. It got me wondering: How do antique/junk hounds deal with flea markets in the summer?

Have a sweet frozen treat on your way to Canton.
Courtesy Dairy Palace

Chill Out

For starters, chill out with some frozen treats. Nothing says “country” like hitting the Dairy Queen (17249 W I-20, Canton, 903-567-4153). We have them here — I know, I know — but that didn’t stop my best friend Leigh and me from ordering a Blizzard on the way to pick up Mom. (I’ve been four times since and am now officially addicted to the Choco Brownie Extreme, by the way.)

Josh Abbott’s face greeted me at the door, on a poster, and on a souvenir mug. He’s the chain’s current spokesman and the voice you hear in the latest version of the “That’s What I Like About Texas” jingle.

Gas-Pipe-300x250

The historic Dairy Palace (2301 N Trade Days Blvd, Canton, 903-567-6551) is the local, independent choice for ice cream. Along with 33 flavors of Blue Bell available for a hand-dipped cone, this place is also known for burgers, including exotic meat and vegan options. It gets crowded on trade-day weekends, but it’s well worth the wait.

On the trade days grounds, there are food and drink options aplenty, including homemade ice cream, lemonade, margaritas, and more. (Find the Bahama Mamas booth for snow cones.) You’ll also want to bring or buy water to stay hydrated. Cash is king, as most vendors don’t take cards.

Vendors have icy treats for you in Canton.
Courtesy Visit Canton

 

Get There Early

First Monday is open Thu-Sun before the first Monday of every month, rain or shine, from sun-up to sundown. The hottest part of the year in Texas generally falls from June to August, and according to WeatherSpark.com, the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy about 33% of the time in Canton this time of year, so you could get lucky.

You’ll also find the best junk by hitting the grounds early. Thursday isn’t as well attended, so it’s a great day to get started. For the sake of nabbing better parking alone, early mornings on Fri-Sun are a good idea.

Many people bring what native Texans call a “Canton Cart” for easy shopping. They fold down easily in the car and are handy for holding your funky finds, drinks, purses, water (!), and the like. I brought mine to work when we once moved our cubes around at another paper. My publisher said I looked like a homeless person. He’d never seen a Canton Cart. He wasn’t from around here. #DamnYankee

Others (young and old) rent scooters. I saw a group of ladies who had theirs decked out with matching cup holders. It wasn’t their first rodeo, and their rides probably weren’t rentals. For the rest of us, scooters are snatched up fast, so rent one early in the day. Your best bet is J&J Scooter & Wagon Rentals (367 N Trade Days Blvd, Canton, 972-979-1722), which sits right inside the front gate of the trade grounds.

Get yourself a “Canton Cart” — trust me!
Courtesy First Monday Trade Days

 

Take Cover

You’ll want to play it safe and go at dawn for the outdoor shopping portion. Wear a hat and sunscreen, too. Or you can stay inside. Once it gets too warm, focus on the several indoor sheds and covered areas with fans. Also, make sure to take advantage of the indoor shopping available in other areas of Canton. The downtown has some nice antique and craft stores and an antique shopping mall on S Hwy 19.

There are many covered spots to escape the sun throughout the trade grounds.
Courtesy Visit Canton

If you make a weekend of it, having overnight accommodations will help you avoid the heat of the day. Along with an RV park for camping out, there are several area hotels to choose from. You could stay somewhere basic, like the Best Western or Motel 6, with a pool for cooling off, but more adventurous options are available, too.

You don’t have to stay at a basic hotel for pool access. Wake up poolside at the Azalea House Bed & Breakfast.
Courtesy Visit Canton

Check out VisitCantonTX.com/Stay for novel places to rest your head, including ones with pools like the Azalea House Bed & Breakfast (17744 FM 1255, Canton, 972-978-3634). Another cute option is the Buffalo Girls Hotel (542 E Dallas St, Canton, 903-567-7829).

There are novel accommodations around Canton, like the Buffalo Girls Hotel.
Courtesy Visit Canton

 

For more information about upcoming special events, trade days dates, and other resources, go to VisitCantonTX.com.

For more four-day weekend adventure ideas, read about Summertime Holidays in our Night & Day column here.

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