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Smiley's Flea Market celebrating 34 years in Macon

They will have a special celebration this Saturday with free ice cream.

MACON, Ga. — Smiley's Flea Market is celebrating 34 years in Central Georgia Saturday, and you're invited to the party.

They'll have free ice cream, rides for the kids, and music.

But no matter when you make the trip down Highway 247, the flea market is always an experience.

People come to Smiley's Flea Market for all sorts of reasons. The place got a humble start 34 summers ago.

Ben Camp's dad, Ben Camp Senior, started the business.

"Well, he thought Macon was a great place, and this is between Warner Robins and Macon with the air base, and thought there was a need here for a flea market and just happened upon it one day driving the back roads and saw this property," Camp said.

The younger Camp shared stories from all those years ago.

"And it was 1,800 square feet and had 200 vendors, and now, it's grown to 60 acres and over 1,200 selling spaces," he said.

And in those spaces, you never know what or who you'll find.

"We've done some fun stuff -- we've done money drops from hot air balloons, and we've had people going around with a cabbage on their head, and people playing the guitar and singing crazy songs, and coming in their school buses, and just had some really good characters," Camp said with a smile.

Ray Gilliam is one of those good characters. "I used to go around and impersonate Willie Nelson singing," he said.

Gilliam went one step further and created his idol out of metal.  He's conjured up some other critters, too.

"A shovel horseshoe, and this is a railroad spike, and a saw blade, horseshoes, and a washer," he said, pointing to an owl he created.  "I just like to get out and show people the things I can make."

And remember, when you're out there, it is perfectly OK to haggle for the stuff.

"You find an item you like and maybe it's marked for $15 and you're like, 'Ask if they'll take 10,' and bargain back and forth and haggle. I think everybody likes to do that here and the vendors expect it," Camp said. "It's part of the spirit here at the flea market and I think that's what makes it so unique."

It's a unique trip all the way around -- a buying and selling space with a rich history of colorful characters.

Don't forget, the free ice cream is Saturday  from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. in the blue Pavilion on the back walkway.

As for plans to expand down the road, Camp says they want to add more rides for kids and bring in live music every weekend.

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