I always get excited about our spring outdoorsman’s swap meet, which will be held in just a week or so. We usually ask the Springfield news media to help us publicize it, since it is only 15 minutes north of Springfield, but they never do, so it ends up being something of a secret to everyone except the readers of this column.  And since this column is used by about 35 newspapers in southern Missouri, north Arkansas and Eastern Kansas, we usually attract a pretty good crowd without being crowded.

The particulars are this… it is held from 8 to 2 on Saturday, March 23 at the gymnasium of the Brighton Assembly of God church, about a half-mile off of Highway 13 (take the hwy 215 exit going east).  THE WHOLE DARN THING IS FREE TO VISITORS OR VENDORS!  We usually fill about 45 tables, and we still have about ten tables available. If it is a nice day we usually have some boats and motors outside and maybe a canoe or two.  Inside you will find everything imaginable.  

Dave Olson always brings some beautiful hardwood cutting boards for ladies at a really low price, and if you want one, come early as he always sells out by noon.  Larry Eggers has a table full of hand-made cedar box turkey calls that are some of the best I have ever seen, some of them hand painted.  Ed Davis and his son brings lots of items, among which are hand-made wing-bone calls worth three times what he sells them for. Dave Preddy brings furs and mounts like bobcats and foxes, that are great for dens or living rooms, and fur caps that make you look like a mountain man.  One table is filled with handmade knives, another with old hunting guns.  Several ladies bring canned goods and baked goods, and there will be more new and used fishing lures, rods and reels and fishing paraphernalia than you have ever seen in one place.  Many of those lures are antiques, and one fellow says he bought a hundred dollar antique lure at our swap meet two years ago for 3 dollars.  A local spinner bait maker will have some lures you just have to try for spring fishing.  They are different than any I have ever seen.

There will be an abundance of wildlife art and hopefully a wildlife artist or two, antique outdoor magazines and sporting posters, and an author or two signing books.   I intend to bring about 100 outdoor magazines, (Outdoor Life and Field and Stream among them), from the 70’s and 80’s that we are going to just give away.

I enjoy it so much because I get to meet with and talk to so many people who read this column.  I give away samples of my magazine, and sign my books and sell them at a discount, and then we donate a percentage of that back to the church, which in turn uses it for local kids who need things during the school year which they can’t buy.  Last year we collected about five hundred dollars for that purpose, with generous donations from vendors and visitors.  

The youth of the Brighton Assembly of God church are there to keep people from getting hungry.  In the morning they are fixing biscuits and gravy, and then at mid-day they have pork sandwiches, hamburgers, and other things to eat.  They usually have pie and cake too.  Coffee and soft drinks are available all day.  The charge for food and drinks is nominal, and that goes into church funds for the youth.

There is indeed a mix of things new and old, and there will be more antique items to look at than you have time for.  But this year there will be something special to go to the highest bidder.  Some folks have a victorola record player about a hundred years old, the old crank-up type, which still works, with beautiful standing walnut cabinet and some old records to use with it.  I don’t know how much it is worth but it will be on display and offered to the highest bidder.

But here’s something new we are going to do… we are going to set up two tables which will be attended by the Lightnin Ridge Outdoor Journal’s newest employee, Kathy Pirtle for any of you folks who have one or two or three outdoor items you have always wanted to sell. 

We’ll sell them for you while you look around and enjoy yourself.  You can put your name in the drawing box and at noon, we will draw names and give away a whole table full of prizes donated to us for the drawing.  If your name is drawn you can pick any item on the table, and some of those prizes are worth more than 100 dollars.

In addition to Kathy, Lightnin’ Ridge editor Sondra Gray will be there, as well as Dorothy Loges, our design and layout director.  My family will all be there too of course, as I have persuaded all my daughters to show up and help.  I am going to try to get some of my handmade turkey calls ready if time allows.  Last year every time someone subscribed to our magazine, I gave them one of my turkey calls, inscribed and signed.

Anyhow, as you can see, we are going to have a great time, and I am so thankful to the people of the Brighton Assembly of God church, and their assistant pastor in particular, Mark Cross, for making all this possible.  Mark will be there and local folks should make it a point to meet him.  Mark will show you the old time church, which must be close to 80 years old. It actually sets inside the present day building.  The new church and it’ gym and Sunday school rooms were all built around that old rock church.

You can probably tell how excited I get about this swap meet. We start working on it on Friday, the day before, and if you would like to help, or if you come from a long ways off and would like to set up your table on Friday evening, March 22, just call me.  My phone number is 417-777-5227.  You can see a map to the church on my website, www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.    It is about 6 or 7 miles south of Bolivar, about 16 miles north of Springfield, just off highway 13.  And like I said, we still have about 10 tables available.

Write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, mo. 65613 or e-mail me at lightninridge@windstream.net

*We only ask that those who bring guns bring only hunting guns, no assault type weapons.*