A day at the PR flea market
By Sarah Smith
Thursdays are flea market days.
A booming market takes places every Thursday east of Park Rapids at Summerset, a few miles east on Highway 34.
The place is abuzz with action and traffic during the summer.
Presiding over it all is Lynne Denman, chief cook and bottle washer for the past 38 years – that she can recall.
“This is a good little wholesome flea market,” she said. “It’s like family.”
She apologizes that the season is winding down and the grounds aren’t filled to the brim.
It sure looks busy.
People are swarming all over the place. Tents line the main drag for a block.Unique items attract the eye. And the harvest is bountiful, so there are fresh veggies galore.John Matson is replacing new selections on a table – cukes, tomatoes, some corn.The stand belongs to wife Diane, he explains.“She’s out picking right now,” he said. It’s hard to see which spouse got the easy job – picking or restocking. John seems mighty busy.Down the way Cindy Stiller and Melissa Boonsted are selling felted wool items from Nepal, scarves that look like morning glories and purses in bright colors.Cindy ties a morning glory scarf around her neck to demonstrate how it’s worn.“Now I don’t have anything to model!” she laments as a customer buys the last of the flower scarves. Both women laugh.Even further down the way, Denman is serving lunch. It’s wild rice casserole. For $6 she’s serving huge portions of casserole, toasted buns, cantaloupe, cucumber salad and cranberries.“Can I just get the casserole to go?” asks a customer after seeing the portions.Sure.Dan Ruberto staffs his table of collectibles. His long hair is collected under a baseball cap.He’s selling one of everything – a gigantic bamboo leaf, tools, books, videos, sporting goods, you name it. It’s all there on his table.Up and down the neatly kept grass avenue, fruit, veggies and collectibles are being bagged up and taken away.Regular customers speak of Denman’s catering business and the awesome leftovers she’d bring occasionally Thursdays to the flea market. She doesn’t do much catering any more, but is regarded as a fabulous cook. The wild rice casserole gets rave reviews.“We’re probably the only ones serving casserole here,” she says of the Park Rapids menu selections.A man and his wife bring a fresh bag of cole slaw to Lynne. She grabs pencil and paper and has them dictate the recipe.Next Thursday is the last one for the flea market this season.