The Butler County Fairgrounds was the place to be this weekend as thousands of people from all over flocked to the Ruffles and Rust Expo.
A long line of shoppers snaked along a fence at the fairgrounds in Hamilton, waiting to get into the event Sunday morning. Event coordinator Marcie Brow said almost 4,000 people came to the traveling boutique show on Saturday.
She said she had 135 different vendors and 195 booths from four states for this event, up from the 80 vendors who hawked their wares when the show was here last October. She said the event is so popular because it is so unique.
“I feel that being able to shop so many hand-picked, different, unique vendors under one roof, not only is it convenient, these vendors spend hours on their displays, it creates an experience,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s an environment and an experience in the shopping and the wine tasting and the food. It’s an ultimate girl’s day out.”
Judy Lawson of Cincinnati was the 11th person in line on Sunday and she arrived at 8 a.m. to get that prime spot. She said the crowd was amiable so the three-hour wait wasn’t bad at all.
“Oh yeah, I love it,” she said “I’m mostly looking for stuff to go in my kitchen, but they’ve got so much to choose from it’s so hard.”
One of the more unique “booths” was a gypsy camper dating back to 1905 when it was used by a 7-year-old shepherd. The ornate wagon was lovingly restored by Tiffany Lewis, who owns Immortelle Bijouterie in Waynesville. Lewis said the event was custom made for her business that features vintage jewelry and antique adornments.
“There’s tons of great vintage merchandise at the show, we’ve had a lot of fun just getting set up with the other vendors, it’s a great kind of community event,” she said. “The really cool thing is there is so much here, in one space and it’s local people that are coming together. It’s not big conglomerate stores, it’s your neighbor that has a small, little business, it’s kind of the American dream.”
There were several campers turned shopping booths scattered across the event. Donna Allen of Hamilton recognized the gypsy trailer for what it was as soon as she spotted it, and busily set about snapping pictures on her phone. She said she loved the event.
“It’s pretty unique,” she said. “I’m a camper and I love the fact they have the old campers here … and there’s a lot of different things here for people. I really love it.”
Laura Colebaugh of Piqua said the event was well worth the drive south and was “all that and more” of what she expected to find.
“It’s amazing,” she said, clutching several shopping bags. “It’s such a variety of stuff, it’s kind of fun to even window shop in a way. You get all these fun experiences, I like it, totally worth the trip and I’m already spending on stuff, stuff you really can’t find anywhere else.”
Hamilton resident Lyndsay Phipps was another camper-dweller at the show, selling vintage clothing and other items. She said she used to sell her goods at other places, but since Ruffles and Rust came to town she doesn’t need to anymore.
“I’m a stay-at-home mom and I do this for fun,” she said. “But this show has become so big for me that I stopped doing all the flea markets and other shows.”