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Crowds drawn to fee-free flea market

Submitted Photo Food vendors are popular at the Fee Free Flea Market near Valley City.

VALLEY CITY — Jodi Rae Ingstad and Sheree Lynn Bowen were brainstorming ways to help others, Ingstad said, when they decided to put together a fee-free flea market near Valley City.

“We don’t have much ourselves, but we like to give to other people,” Ingstad said. “Many flea markets charge booth fees, and we didn’t want that. We want everyone to make money. Times are really tough. We just wanted to help alleviate the stress.”

Bowen’s husband, Chuck, offered his land at Bowen Welding just north of Valley City to be used for the flea market.

Chuck Bowen estimates there have been hundreds of shoppers.

“You get to meet a lot of interesting people, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to have the people come out.”

There have been two Fee Free Flea Market sales so far. The first was July 9 and drew 22 vendors. The last one was Aug. 9 and more than doubled in size, with 50 vendors.

“It shows that this community has a want for these flea markets to continue,” Ingstad said. “The other neat thing about this is the fellowship. People who go to flea markets are kind of like-minded, Boho, hippie souls. We find great celebration in rust, and we find great celebration in cracked wood and imperfection.”

Anyone from anywhere is welcome, Ingstad said.

Vendors sold a variety of items, from garden vegetables and herbs to jewelry, kids’ clothing, garage sale items, and direct sales products.

“It’s really groovy to see the bargaining that’s going on,” Ingstad said.

The flea market could use more food vendors, she said, but because there is no electricity available, vendors would have to bring their own generators.

Tanya Couture of Valley City said she loves the event. Not only has she been able to sell everything from upcycled furniture to shoes and sunglasses at the flea market, but it also brings customers into her downtown clothing shop.

“We are attracting a bigger crowd every time,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event.”

Part of what makes it such a great event is that it’s free, Couture said.

The last Fee Free Flea Market of the season will be Sept. 13 at 3175 117th Ave. S.E., Valley City. Setup is at 7:30 a.m. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To participate, bring a table on which to sell products. Contact Ingstad at or 701-490-1876 with questions.

Tracy Frank

Tracy Frank is a SheSays, Variety, and Farmer's Forum reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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