Johnstown's 65th annual Swappers Day event is expected to be bigger and better than ever this Labor Day weekend as a result of the closure of another Ohio flea market.
Judy Whitehead, flea market secretary for the sponsoring Johnstown Community Sportsman's Club, said the closure of Kenton's National Festival and Flea Market is expected to bring even more patrons and vendors to Swappers Day.
Last year's three-day Swappers weekend brought about 50,000 people to the grounds of the Johnstown's Sportsman's Club.
"I sent out about 150 information packets," Whitehead said. "I usually send 50. People from Kenton have heard about us. We are expecting more because of the closure at Kenton. I've had a lot of calls."
Vendors and patrons of the week-long Kenton festival/flea market were informed in April that the annual event was being canceled because of the state of the economy.
Johnstown's Sportsman's Club has added 40 new vending spots to its existing 700-plus spaces, with the new vending area located south of Trader's Row in a field toward Castle Road.
"We have lots of vendors including new boots and blue jeans, leather, wood furniture, jewelry, DVDs, antique license plates, bed sheets and firearms," Whitehead said. "I have a couple ladies who sell only socks. Everything you can imagine is for sale here."
What visitors won't find at the family-oriented show is alcohol or tobacco products.
Bill Earlewine, a Sportsman's Club member since 1946, said Johnstown runs a clean show.
"If anyone gets out of hand, they're out," he said. "This is a friendly show. It's a family affair."
Earlewine also lives on the 164-acre grounds of the Johnstown Community Sportsman's Club, 7357 Sportsman Club Road, four miles east of Johnstown, off state Route 62.
"You could say I have the biggest yard sale in the state of Ohio," he joked. "A lot of people do their Christmas shopping and Halloween shopping. There's a lot of homemade stuff. They come from all over. Two years ago, there were people here from Alaska."
Whitehead said Swappers brings visitors who like to see what they can find from the many vendors, while others enjoy the coon dog water races and "people watching."
For Knox County's America's Freedom Lodge, the goal at Swappers Day will be to make enough money from knife and gun raffles to help disabled veterans.
"I also have a disabled vet coming with things made by disabled vets from around Chillicothe," Whitehead said.
Johnstown's Community Sportsman's Club uses proceeds of the show to finance three yearly scholarships for local students, in addition to various other service-oriented events like a yearly fishing day for youth and senior citizens.
The club also regularly donates to local food pantries and the Ruffled Grouse Society, among other beneficiaries.
In addition to the flea market and coon dog water races, this year's event will include a 3D Archery Tournament, bluegrass music, paintball shooting range, karaoke contest, chainsaw carving and an alpaca petting zoo.
Admission is $4 for adults; children age 12 and under get in for free.
Swapper's opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, Sept. 5-7.
The coon dog water races begin at 12 noon on Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. on Monday.
No dogs, cats or other pets are admitted on the grounds except for the water race dogs.
"People should not bring pets," Whitehead emphasized. "If they buy a pet, they should take it home immediately or leave it with the seller" until they're ready to head home.
The Johnstown Community Sportsman's Club meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Monday of the month at the club grounds. New members are welcome.
For more information, visit www.swappersday.org.