September 2, 2011
LIMA ‚?? Dogs of all kinds, thousands of people and one giant flea market have invaded the Allen County Fairgrounds for the weekend for the annual Max's Flea Market and Water Dog Races.The event, in its third year, has something for everyone. The animal lover can watch dogs compete in water races. The shopper can find anything he or she wants, and that's everything, in the giant flea market that has tools, clothes, plants, military surplus, lots of guns, all-terrain vehicles, medical supplies, school supplies, hats, power tools, woodworking tools and boots, just to name a few of the thousands of items for sale.On top of that, numerous food vendors have set up to sell fish, homemade ice cream, tacos and just about anything a person is hungry for. ‚??If you can't find it here, you're not looking,‚?Ě said Max McCluer, who puts on the annual event.One of the top attractions is the dog races, which are no longer limited to coon dogs.Sitting in the shade taking a break from the beating sun was Kathy Konrad, of Weston. She's ready to race her 7-year-old Redtick coonhound, Lil Anne.‚??We come in last place. She's a little overweight,‚?Ě Konrad said.Lil Anne starts in a group of eight dogs, enters a pond just short of a football field, and chases a fake raccoon on a wire above the water to the other side of the pond.The first dog out wins one part of the race and the first dog to put its paws onto the tree where the raccoon ends up and bark also wins.Konrad said her favorite part of the weekend is the dog races but she enjoys walking around the flea market. ‚??If the weather cools down we'll plan on going to the flea market,‚?Ě she said. Doris Later, of Kenton, and three of her sisters were one of 850 vendors selling items at the flea market where vendors set up tables, usually under tents, and slap down sell anything and everything. Heck, some may even try to sell the table.‚??Everything you see here is stuff that everyone of us had in our houses,‚?Ě she said. ‚??We probably should be on ‚??Hoarders.'‚?ĚLater said she and her sisters collect a little bit of everything and then try to get rid of it.‚??We basically cleaned out sheds, garages and attics,‚?Ě she said.The ladies were selling clothes, phones, furniture, blankets, car ramps and even ATVs.‚??We have everything,‚?Ě she said.The women were wheeling and dealing on the prices, too. Everything must go, they said.‚??If we can make a few bucks out of things, fine. If we don't, we'll donate it. It doesn't go back. We swore that in blood,‚?Ě Later said.McCluer expects more than 20,000 people to visit the fairgrounds this weekend. The gates opened Friday morning and stay open around the clock until late Sunday. Many of the venders, as well as the visitors, camp in campers and some in tents. There are vendors from 29 states and as far away as Wyoming, McCluer said.Those stopping by come from all over.