Brent Pace admits the name Collector’s Carnival — an antique and flea market show held four times a year in Evansville — came from one of his harebrained ideas. Holding the shows at the Vanderburgh County 4-H Center, 201 E. Boonville-New Harmony Road, his thought was to have different collectibles in each building, thus creating a carnival.
Walk into one of the shows Pace and his wife Suzie coordinate, and it’s easy to see why the name fits. Around 100 vendors fill the inside and outside of three buildings during each show. Antique enthusiasts, die-hard collectors, and curious customers alike browse through aisles lined with vintage and flea-market collectible items.
“I feel like it’s big enough to have plenty of variety, but small enough you don’t get exhausted trying to see everybody,” says Forrest Poston, a vendor at the carnival and owner of Gin-For’s Odditiques.
The Paces launched the first Collector’s Carnival in 1992 with 23 vendors bringing in 700 visitors to look at antiques. Today, the shows bring in 2,500 visitors.
“It’s all fun, the thrill of the hunt, people wanting to add to their collection, or just come out and have a little blast from the past,” says Suzie.
For the Evansville natives, the carnival began with Brent’s hobby of collecting breweriana, antique brewery advertising, from former Evansville breweries Koch and Sterling.
An engineering alumnus of the University of Evansville and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Brent traveled to different shows buying and selling pieces when one day he was inspired to hold a show of his own.
Vendors featured are primarily from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. The shows always have included antique sellers, but over the years flea market vendors who offer repurposed and upcycled collectibles are occasionally booked. The Paces stress the carnival is not just high-end. After a few years’ break, Collector’s Carnival recently welcomed back the flea market side.
“We’re a picker’s paradise,” says Suzie.