“It started on July 4th, 1893 and has been going on every since. It is the largest flea market in MS and the oldest continuously operated one in the entire country,” Duane Bullard, head of the Tippah County Community Foundation and my tour guide was explaining to me about First Monday. The event is actually held on the Saturday and Sunday before the first Monday of each month, bringing in 30,000 to 50,000 visitors each month.
The Market started in downtown Ripley but moved to its site on the southern border of the town in the 1970s. With 1,100 spaces on the fifty acres of the park, the monthly event brings in exhibitors from over half of the states in the USA.
Duane is in charge of security for the events, billing himself as Fife Security, “I’ve got a gun but only one bullet just like Barney.”
Actually, his strategy makes a great deal of sense as head of economic development. He told me, “It allows me to hear what people have to say about our community. It gives me great insight on what we need to work on.”
What a great way to stay on top of perceptions of your community.