LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Memorial Day weekend will be the busiest in more than a year at the Kentucky Expo Center.
Large crowds are expected at the Kentucky Flea Market, the first event of its kind at the facility in in 14 months. The flea market business was shut down by coronavirus restrictions.
“Being in a business where you gather a lot of people together, that became the one big no-no,” said promoter John Stewart.
Stewart said 2020 was a very tough year.
“We just kind of went into a holding pattern,” Stewart told WDRB News. “We did the best we could to pay the bills.”
There are more than 400 booths set up for this weekend’s show. Jack Moore of Columbus, Indiana is among them. He has been selling “collectibles” at flea markets for almost 30 years.
“I've got antiques and collectibles," he said. "I've got pocket watches, I've got coins, silver and gold rings, arrowheads, knives, fishing lures, postcards.”
Moore said the past year has been “terrible.” He normally does two or three shows a month. In 2020, he did five all year.
“Glad to get back out, and excited to be out here to get with it again,” said Moore.
Vendors were selling everything from coffee cups to comic books, and the early crowd seemed to reflect a pent-up demand.
“It's been rough,” said Donna Cox of Louisville. “It's an outing, it's fun, and something we really enjoy, and we really missed.”
“We just like to come out here and spend a little cash we've saved up in a year and a half,” said her husband Larry.
Stewart said the event is in line with the latest CDC guidelines.
“If you're vaccinated, you're not required to wear a mask,” he said. “If you're not, you should wear a mask.”
But few at the event seemed concerned about COVID.
“Not really,” said Lorena Perry of Bedford, Indiana. “We're just real careful.”
“We've got both of our shots,” said Larry Cox. “We feel better about that.”
Following a pause for the pandemic, Moore said he is glad to finally be back in business.
“From what I've seen so far and, already, the sales I've had — I think it's going to be a good show," he said. "I think it's going to be real good."
Besides the flea market, a tattoo convention and national volleyball tournament are also taking place at the Expo Center this weekend. There is also a car show at the downtown convention center.
Local experts said the events do not mean tourism is all the way back — by a longshot, but the rebound has begun.
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