Great Day Trips from Devonshire: First Monday Trade Days

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The residents of Devonshire, a master-planned community located just east of Dallas in Forney, have something in common with the residents of Devonshire (county) England, from which the community draws its inspiration. As with the towns in its English namesake, the Texas version is a peaceful community in the country. It has the charm of an English countryside combined with the easy access to employment, culture, entertainment and exemplary schools in one of the most dynamic areas of Texas.

There is also something else that both “Devonshires” have in common. They are both located near fabulous antique and flea markets. 

The English markets are known worldwide. They include the Bermondsey Antique Market, Portobello Market, Camden Passage and hundreds of others. Not to be outdone, about 40 minutes, southeast of the Devonshire community in the Texas metroplex is the largest flea market in the world! It is open every month for four days, called The First Monday Trade Days and located in Canton, Texas.

The market is held on the Thursday through Sunday preceding the first Monday of each month. It claims to be the largest and oldest continually operated flea market in the United States and is a very popular event in the area. Depending on the time of year, up to 100,000 shoppers frequent the fair over a weekend. For shoppers of one-of-kind items, a day trip to this huge market is a must-visit.

From Horse Trading to Antiques

According to this article, “First Monday Trade Days began sometime in the 1850s. As was common in those days, the circuit judge would stop in certain areas on specific days to hold court sessions. People came to town on those days to see the court proceedings and to conduct business. Canton's designated day was the first Monday of each month, hence the origin of the name. 

“Since most of Van Zandt County (where Canton is located) was open range at that time, a state law required that all stray horses be brought into the town and auctioned to the highest bidder. These horses had been picked up on the range and boarded by the farmers until the day of the auction. People came from all around to participate, and this became known as "First Monday Trades Day", sometimes called "Horse Monday". Soon the people were bringing their own horses to sell or trade, and as the years passed, they began to bring their excess crops, such as fresh produce, grain, and sugar cane syrup.”

Over the next century, the First Monday Trade Days market gained national recognition. Feature stories had appeared in magazines such as Life, Look, and The Saturday Evening Post. Texas newspapers periodically acclaimed its appeal and uniqueness. In 1965, the City of Canton purchased a small parcel of land and began its plan to harness the economic and tourist magnet that the flea market had become.

Shop ‘Til You Drop

Today, because of its proximity, residents of the Devonshire community in Forney can spend hours, or the entire weekend every month at this massive market. For antique lovers, thrift shop fanatics and craft mavens, there it is a place to shop until you drop!

According to online sources, “First Monday Trade Days currently operates over 100 acres and provides places for 6,000 vendors. There are various buildings and areas, each designated by name, among them the Original Pavilions, Canton Marketplace, Old Mill Marketplace, The Village, The Mountain, The Arbors and The Dog Alley. 

“The buildings, known as pavilions, house the more established and regular vendors. They are full of the regulars who have reserved these spaces for the entire year. Most feature new crafts or products with a decidedly country or western feel. They are popular with shoppers looking for dependability and the modestly higher prices that go along with it. Most vendors in these areas are unwilling to come down much on their prices, but bartering is always welcome.

“The Canton Marketplace is the first building which begins the Trade Days market area on Highway 19. It is a climate controlled indoor pavilion with over 300 vendors who are mostly year around regulars. This pavilion has slightly more upscale items than the rest of the grounds and a food court. Despite the upscale feel, you can still find excellent bargains on unique items. Sometimes you can catch concerts or other free venues during trade days weekend here. There is a winery which offers taste testing, they have convenient onsite parking, an RV Park, and offer a free trolley transportation to the other First Monday areas.

“The unreserved areas of the market are by far the most interesting and most likely to produce an unexpected treasure. It is first-come-first-served in these areas and the vendors who arrive early get the choice shady spots. Anything and everything can be found and there is a definite garage sale feel but with a general nod toward collectibles. The majority of items are old but bargains can be found in current categories such as computer and office supplies, tools, yard art and furniture and even toys.” 

Because of its large expanse and its many outdoor vendors, the First Monday Trade Days market is a safe place to shop with friends while staying socially distanced from the rest of the crowd. 

2021 Dates for the Markets

Remember, the First Monday Trade Days occur on the Thursday through Sunday preceding the first Monday of each month. Click here for the 2021 calendar.

The Perfect Location 

Whether it is enjoying antique shopping at Canton, water sports on Lake Ray Hubbard (minutes away), attending a professional or college sporting event in Dallas, taking in a movie or enjoying world-class dining, with its location just off highway 80 at FM 548 Devonshire is close to just about everything in northeast Texas. The luxurious landscaping and top-of-the-line amenities of the community make a “Stay-cation” a blast too!

Find out more about the unique lifestyle of Devonshire. Click here to set a time to see what you’re missing.