Much to buy at the Princeton Flea Market, but vendor stories are free (and fascinating)

Judy Soto, pictured, and husband Joe Soto want their re-created handmade Ammo Jewelry to display the message that anything, no matter how mundane, can be recreated into something good and beautiful.  Laura Lyke photo

by Laura Lyke
Green Lake Reporter

People often make their way to the Princeton Flea Market in search of valuable antiques, tasty treats and custom art, but many don’t know that the vendors not only come with their personal products, but incredible stories, as well.

On Saturday, Aug.  22 I made my way to the state’s largest weekly outdoor flea market, held in Princeton every Saturday in the tree-shaded City Park on the east side of town on Hwy 23.

I wandered into the park with my camera (suspiciously being eyed by craft vendors making sure I wasn’t photographing pieces of art to copy and sell as my own design) in search of unique finds that caught my eye.

Everybody has their own unique tastes, but in flea markets I’m automatically drawn to the artisans. (I think lacking any artistic ability gives me a greater appreciation for local artists.)

The first man I met was Ron Schaalma of Waupun.

He was selling “Rustic Impressions,” varnished and polished creations made of wood and stone.

Most of Schlaama’s pieces out on the table were relatively small: birdhouses, wall shelves, decorative signs.

I learned from talking with him, however, that his abilities are anything but small. Schlaama has designed and built entire furniture sets; he got started with the process after building a log cabin — with his hands!

From my perspective, (the only girl who ever had to get stitches from the middle school woodshop scroll saw), I find that local talent beyond impressive.

I also had the pleasure of meeting local artists August Pflum of Fond du Lac and Lois Zuehls of Princeton.

Pflum creates gorgeous stainless steel flowers of all sizes made out of metal piping. He began his artwork after creating just one flower as a gift for his wife, and has since become more passionate about it after his wife became ill and the hobby began creating a side profit.

Zuehls creates beautiful, intricate paintings by hand on glassware in her spare time, and informed me that not only does she love it, but it also “keeps [her] off the streets.”

The last booth I visited was occupied by Joe and Judy Soto, Wisconsin crafters who create and sell ammo jewelry…that’s right, personal ornamentatino made out of bullets.

Judy explained to me that with divine inspiration, she and her husband wanted to pursue something with the message attached that anything bad can be re-created into something good and valuable.

They hope that the message from ammo-turned-jewelry can make an impact on how people view each other, as well. Everyone has good within themselves.

The Princeton Flea Market is definitely an exciting place to explore, and I originally thought that one should not venture there with a full belly or an empty wallet.

What I didn’t expect, though, was how marvelous the Princeton Flea Market can be for someone who ventures in with nothing more than open ears and an open mind.


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