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The Main Park attraction: Outdoor flea market draws crowds to Mokena park

After the cancellation of the outdoor flea market in May due to forecasts for rain and ground conditions, the Mokena Community Park District drew crowds to the event held June 25.

“I think there’s a good variety of different vendors here that not everyone’s selling antiques and everyone’s selling baby clothes,” said Rebecca Phetteplace, recreation supervisor of special events for Mokena Community Park District. “There’s something for everyone. There’s new things, there’s old things, things that kids will like, things that adults will like.”

A number of people dropped in to explore the various offerings from vendors this time around.

“We usually get a pretty good crowd,” she said. “We usually fill up our vendor spots. [There’s] sometimes a waitlist for it, and that’s over 150 spots.”

Rich Rosen, of Mokena, ran a booth full of collectibles that he was hoping to sell.

“I get more people who look at [the coins and sports cards] than anything else I’ve got,” he said. “There are more people collecting coins and sports cards than, say, Beanie Babies.”

From the collectibles he mentioned to rare forms of currency, he collected the items he brought over many years.

“There’s a paper quarter from 1864,” he said. “That’s the oldest paper money I have.”

Rosen said he did not bring out his best coin, though.

“My best coin I have is a silver dollar that’s [worth] $25,000,” he said.

The reason he decided to set up a booth at the outdoor flea market is simple, Rosen said.

“I’m retired, I’m 71,” he said. “To me, this is fun. It gets me out of the house.”

Liz Emmick, of New Lenox, said she was enjoying the outdoor flea market. She said she didn’t know what to expect when she dropped in.

“[I heard about it] through a friend,” she said.

The booths had a nice variety of older and newer items, Emmick said and she said she did not necessarily come in search of anything in particular.

“[I’m] just kind of looking for something to do over the weekend,” she said.

The outdoor flea market has a way of drawing people in, Phetteplace said.

“A lot of it is the same people keep coming back,” she said. “I know people get down about it being rained out. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of the same people keep coming back to the flea market.”

“We got a lot of new people this year, too, so it’s a good mix,” she added.

Phetteplace credits the event’s ability to bring in new people to good promotion.

“I think a lot of it is word of mouth,” she said. “A lot of people seem to bring their friends with them to come sell.”

The outdoor flea market does a wonderful job of bringing the community together, Phetteplace said.

“It’s something that’s not going to the mall, it’s something where you get to be outdoors and still doing something that everyone could enjoy easily,” she said. “There’s like space for kids to play here if their parents are shopping.”

The next outdoor flea market of the summer season is to be held July 23.