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Melinda Daubitz has one of my very favorite booths at Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days. As you will read below, I have made some pretty awesome purchases from her in the past. We are very happy to feature Melinda and Sparrow Antiques in our latest edition of the Vendor Spotlight!

First off you should know that I LOVE your booth. One year I bought two antique beds from you and I was in the market for exactly zero beds. Dana, we remember that year…lol, you also bought a mailbox that you were going to turn into a library in your yard.  We had so much fun watching you shop.

Tell us all a little bit about yourself, where you are from and what Sparrow Antiques is all about.  Sparrow Antiques is a collection of treasures from the past.  I am originally from the Chicago land area.  I relocated in Eau Claire WI with my 4 children about 18 years ago as a single parent.  I started to collect stuff, mostly broken.  I would repair and repurpose and then have little sales to supplement my income.  My love for collecting never stopped and my hobby became my second career.  We love yesteryear and just buy things that speak out and I think others may enjoy.

How do you go about collecting items to sell? Is there a particular style that you focus on?  We love to shop small towns, estates and auctions. Nothing like a good/full dumpster and a little sidewalk surfing! Our style is ever changing, we watch trends and colors and try to find things that we love and others might.  Many things I have bought, I bought for myself…..LOVED and then sell.  My house is always changing with my mood.

How long have you been coming to DOGR as a vendor and what keeps you coming back?  I have been coming to Oronoco for maybe 15 years,  I am in love with the small town feel. I love that the entire town becomes a mecca for shoppers.  Shoppers who love character, old stuff that tells stories of the past. The food is amazing and the great venders.  We look forward to seeing everyone, every year.  It feels like our little community for the weekend

We all have our favorite foods at DOGR - what are yours?  The food is amazing!  We really love the home-made ice cream sandwiches and the fireman breakfast is a favorite activity.

Do you ever get a chance to shop around DOGR? If so, what is your favorite DOGR purchase?  We don’t have a lot of time for shopping, but we do always seem to find a treasure for ourselves.  May it be an old bear, a handmade quilt from yesteryear or that one of a kind chippy paint piece that must go on the porch 

What kind of advice would you give to a new flea market shopper?  Well, we do like to give a deal! It never hurts to ask if we can do better!  I personally hate when someone rips on a piece, pointing out all its flaws…..for a good deal.  Our things are old and often imperfect that is what we loved about it and wanted to share it with buyers.  Also, I love when buyers want to know the story about a special piece….many things have been bought and someone told us the story, or who may have owned it.  Ask about the story, it makes each piece even more special.

 What can we expect to see at your booth in August? Do you have anything you are saving just for DOGR?  We are on the hunt right now, we have some medium sized chippy furniture.  Kitchen stuff is always popular and the colors are bright.  We are saving some wonderful carnival stuff, like a ferris wheel seat.  We like a few unique pieces to get folks to take a peek.  We usually have a little bit for everyone and our prices are great!

We are so excited to see you again in August. Who knows, maybe I'll leave with another antique bed! Until then, where can we find you?  We are so excited to come.  Truly our favorite place to be in August!!  Our new shop is in Eau Claire Wisconsin…just a hop and a skip away. Sparrow Antiques, 767 2nd Ave in Eau Claire WI is a shared space with Vintage Junkies.  We work many shows, helping each other out!

A follow up about the mailbox mentioned above. I was shopping with my sister when she bought the mailbox from Melinda. She did turn it into a little library for her yard and it is adorable!

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We love Gold Rush
We love Gold Rush

Each year in August, the tiny little town of Oronoco, Minnesota is flooded with thousands of shoppers searching for that special something at Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days. Throughout the next few months, we will be interviewing shoppers and sharing it with you here! Our first shopper is a great friend and someone who I enjoy running into at DOGR. We share a love of the event and always stop to visit and discuss what the hot items are that year. Meet Maria.

How long have you been shopping at DOGR and how did you hear about it?
I have been shopping at Gold Rush for about 7 years.  I was really into following some shabby chic bloggers and they always talked about flea market style.  When I found out Gold Rush was so close to Rochester, my friend and I decided to check it out.  We had a blast and I've been every year since! When we decided to move to Oronoco, I have to admit, being so close to Gold Rush was definitely a perk!

Do you go to DOGR ready with a list or do you wing it?
I usually have a few things in mind.  However, I like to think that Gold Rush tells me what I'm looking for most of the time!

Once you get to DOGR, tell me a little bit about your shopping strategy.
I like to do a quick walk through first.  I know where my favorite vendors are and I always make sure to visit them first, before I run out of money! After I've made my first sweep, I will go back through and take my time.  I also always go on Friday.  We start mid-morning, have lunch and usually end the day hot and tired with a beer in the Fire Station beer garden!

Do you shop alone or with friends? Why?
I have done both, but I much prefer going with the group of friends that have been coming with me for years! I have friends from the Twin Cities and Wisconsin that come stay with me for the weekend.  We shop all day and we are all looking for different things.  We help each other see the potential in an item and talk each other into our treasures if need be.  I'm probably the most experienced at talking with the vendors and knowing when it's appropriate to negotiate on price.

Can you describe a couple of your favorite DOGR purchases over the years?
There are so many! My all time best find is an authentic church pew that sits in my foyer.  My first big purchase was a pair of beautiful wood locker room benches - I spray painted the metal legs gold and they are gorgeous.  Another favorite is a huge metal and wood arch that sits on my mantel.  My brother in law and I had been shopping all day and I had been looking for a statement piece for over the mantel.  We had given up and were walking back to the car when he spotted it behind a bunch of yard decor! It was such a thrill to take it home - it was perfect.

There are some delicious food vendors every year at DOGR. What are your must haves?
The food is so much fun!  I always have to have the cheese curds and a homemade ice cream sandwich!

Do you have any tips for first time DOGR shoppers?
It can be a little overwhelming at first! I would definitely suggest having a couple things to 'hunt' for, to give you some direction at first.  Check out Pinterest for ideas.  Also, bring lots of denominations of cash.  Some vendors take cc or checks but cash is always the easiest route!

What is on your list for 2019 DOGR?
Hmmmm...I would LOVE to find some mid century modern bedside tables or a dresser.  I keep a list going on my phone and as I think of stuff, I add to it.  I also have a dedicated Pinterest board for Gold Rush.

A big thank you to Maria for taking the time to answer our questions! We look forward to catching up with her at Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days in August to find out if she tracks down those Mid Century Modern pieces!

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The race begins

We have Jeff Hovel to thank for the photos from the very first Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush 5K.

Jeff is a resident of Oronoco and asked permission to take photos to share with us.  He did not charge a fee for doing this, but did the photography as an act of charity and service.  For this we are grateful.

Enjoy the images here. If you want to contact Jeff about the photo of you or your family member his contact is Sales@meridianstudio.net

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On Sunday morning August 19th Oronoco began a new tradition.  Oronoco residents put together their first 5K and had it coincide with the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days.  Many participants registered months in advance, and some registered on Thursday evening at the Oronoco Presbyterian Church.  The last to decide came to Oronoco at 7 o'clock am to register to walk or run the 5K.

Marci came dressed for a special 5K
Marci came dressed for a special 5K

As the people arrived the energy of Oronoco rose with excitement.  Many showed up with their children and others had a buddy or came alone.  All came ready to have a good time.

The sun is barely up as these runners arrive.

As they began to form a crowd more and more of the Gold t-shirts dotted the street.  And the weather could not have been more co-operative. The race was scheduled to begin at 8 am. and there was a pleasant breeze.

We call this a tradition even though this was the first year that Oronoco sponsored a 5K.  And for such a small town the turnout was good.  The path they would travel began on the North side of the bridge where the old dam used to be.

After crossing the bridge and making their way up Minnesota Ave the group moved into a residential neighborhood, and followed a paved path through the woods along the Zumbro River.

At the start of the race was the clock to record each persons time.

The path is lined with yellow flowers 5 foot tall.  By the time the group gets to this part of the run there are wide gaps between the runners and walkers.  There are runners who came to beat their own time, from a run done somewhere before Oronoco.  For others who are bringing up the rear, they have no intention of hurrying this moment.  They are relaxed and enjoying all of the beauty Oronoco presents.

So if you didn't make it to Oronoco's first 5K  now would be the time to consider joining us the next time.  And if you have never been to Oronoco it is time to Start.....

Make a trip to Oronco one of the items on your list of "must do's" so next time you will be here for the line up.  Besides this 5K, and the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days, we have a Frisbee golf course, a river to contemplate, and the Oronoco City Park for camping. Many parks have playgrounds for the kids, and in the winter the Lions Club puts up the walls for the basketball court to become an ice skating rink.

Yes Oronoco, just North of Rochester is growing into a "big, little town" where we treasure our visitors, along with our fellow residents.

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How do we thank all the vendors and shoppers?

Lucy and her son Elliot were just two of the thousands of shoppers who came to the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days, this past weekend.  Besides the treasures they found at this particular booth they proceeded to find many more as they ventured out through old downtown Oronoco.

Elliot was scouting out the toy selection on Friday.

Both Lucy and Elliot also made themselves available as volunteers.  For two days they took a 2 hour shift delivering ice to the vendors.  Elliott was insistent that they volunteer again next year. Lucy agreed.

As I began this post, I asked..... "How can we thank all the vendors and shoppers?" ( who came to participate in Oronoco's non-profit event the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days)

Let's begin with a thank you to all the volunteers who helped us as well.  Beyond the golf carts, there was the volunteer fire department and first responders, who all worked their best to build funds for the best equipment to protect the Oronoco residents. They also prepared meals for the volunteers and shoppers.

In the VFW there were Veterans and their family members who prepared meals for the visitors and also had meals available for our volunteers.

Grace Lutheran Church returned this year with pies again, (we missed seeing their pies last year) and their new Pastor and his family were volunteering as well to help make this years event a success.

The Presbyterian Church is located up the hill from the old downtown, but they too had volunteers who set up a resting tent, providing shade and seats for nursing mothers or others needing a break.  They also made their parking lot available for the vendors to park their car there, while they worked their booths. (hopefully leaving a donation in the church donation box.)

One more non-profit organization that set up a booth this year was the Lions Club from Oronoco.  We know they use some of their funds to set up the winter skating rink in downtown Oronoco, and in the summer they host evening movies in the Oronoco City Park.

And for all the vendors, who drove many hours to be here, we send a big THANK YOU! We hope to see you next year and so do many of your customers.  We walked around and got feed back from the vendors and will work to continue to make the event a win for them as much as it was for us.

To the Shoppers we are grateful for no rain, cool temperatures in the morning and that you came to the Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days .  Speaking for the red shirt volunteers who worked for a year to get the show organized, we know the show would not be a success without the shoppers.  Thank you for coming and for telling your friends to check us out as well.

And last but not least thank you for ALL the other volunteers who participated in making the 2018 Downtown Oronoco Gold Rush Days a wonderful family friendly place to be.

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