Originally created 08/08/03

Gone to the market



The smell of doughnuts and fried foods drift through the heart of the Barnyard Flea Market on Doug Barnard Parkway at Bobby Jones Expressway.

From a nook among the eateries that offer pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and a full breakfast menu come the sounds of a live band performing the Eagles song Lying Eyes.

Oh yeah, there's shopping, too.

Bargain-hunting might be at the top of the list of reasons people go to flea markets, but from carnival midway-type food fare to the simple joys of people-watching, markets offer more than discounted merchandise.

Each Saturday and Sunday at the Barnyard, a group of musicians come together for the Backporch Jam.

Formed by John Kelley, the band has no name, and the musicians and song styles change from week to week. "We're all originals," said Eva Holley, a guitarist and singer, known to all as Miss Eva. "People get up and sing. That's what this is, a jam."

Mr. Kelley was looking for a place for musicians to come together and play on a regular basis. With two guitarists and a washtub-bass player, the Backporch Jam was born last September.

There usually are about 10 musicians who come out each weekend although the number has gone as high as 20.

"I love the Backporch Jam," said Shawn Arrowood, listening as he took a break from his mission to find a bargain-priced leather vest for wearing while riding his motorcycle.

He and his wife, Julie, were among those walking the airy, un-air-conditioned shopping area, perusing items from pocketknives to jewelry to cell-phone covers.

"I bought a key chain with Shawn's name on it and some house plants," Mrs. Arrowood said.

The South Augusta Flea Market, an older jockey lot, is just down Doug Barnard Parkway from the Barnyard. A sign at its entrance touts the flea market as "Richmond County's Largest Tourist Attraction."

Rising from the ashes of a fire a few years ago, the South Augusta Flea Market has booths with merchandise ranging from wedding dresses to copies of compact discs.

Although there's no entertainment except for the music played at vendor booths, there are cool snow cones and fresh lemonade to cool the effects of the August heat.

Weather is no issue in the climate-controlled environment of the North Augusta Flea Mall in the old Kmart building on U.S. Highway 1 in North Augusta.

Inside, vendors hawk wares ranging from vitamins to books from rows of stalls made of wood and wire.

One recent Saturday, Brother James Wiggins, Dkon and Koto provided the afternoon entertainment. Sunday's lineup included the Believers Gospel Sing.

In the center of the flea mall is a holdover from the building's earlier incarnation as a Kmart: a blue light still used to announce special deals.

FLEA MARKETS

Flea markets get their name from old open-air markets in Europe that specialized in secondhand merchandise. The merchandise was haggled over and came with a bargain price, but may also have come with an infestation of fleas, according to the Web site turnersouth.com/junkin.

Want to get started? Here is a listing of some Augusta-area flea markets and some flea market resources:

BARNYARD FLEA MARKET

1625 Doug Barnard Parkway

793-8800

NORTH AUGUSTA FLEA MALL

5979 Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S. Highway 1)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday-Sunday

279-0900

SOUTH AUGUSTA FLEA MARKET

1562 Doug Barnard Parkway

8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

798-5500

RESOURCES

  • Junkin': Turner South television series on flea market shopping, featuring different town each week. Murphy, N.C., bargain shopping is featured in the episode airing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Sunday and 11;30 p.m. Wednesday.
  • Web site www.fleamarketguide.com: Extensive listing of flea markets across nation. Click on state links.
  • Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or czbrackett@hotmail.com.