For the first few years after it was founded in 2011, the Treasure Island Flea Market was the lighthearted little sister to the much more serious Alameda Point Antiques Faire across the Bay. With a few exceptions, the white-topped vendor tents contained more arts and crafts than antiques. But despite its lack of mid-century furniture and vintage fur coats, Treasure Island Flea has taken off.
On the last weekend of every month, thousands flock to the island with dogs and kids in tow to buy handmade jewelry and sip too-sweet margaritas from one of the many booze tents. Even a 2016 move across the island from the west to east side (which requires a slightly longer drive) and a name change (from the Treasure Island Flea Market to TreasureFest) haven’t kept shoppers at bay. Last weekend’s crowds were so huge that parking became a problem, and many of the more than 400 stalls (namely the ones selling dog clothes) were too packed with people to enter. With the qualifications for a vendor stand loosened up — an online questionnaire simply asks if the products are vintage, antique, craft, or plants — the event has begun to resemble Renegade Craft Fair’s array of handmade doodads.
But the grumpy, senior antique dealers are still there, albeit hidden in between a stand selling kitschy wooden signs saying “Home,” and a vendor who put Bluetooth speakers inside old jewelry boxes. One large antique booth had dozens of leather bags hanging from the ceiling over tables filled with odds and ends — an old wrench, a small statue of an elephant. Across the path, an older man leaned against a creepy van as children perused two blankets laid out on the ground, filled with vintage toys.
As the festival has grown, so has the lineup of food trucks. A huge, Off The Grid-style layout at the southern end of the event has more than 20 food vendors, from Chairman Bao to Bacon Bacon to Koja Kitchen. Big, festival-style booze tents charge $5 for a can of Tecate. It’s rowdy and hectic, with live music, kids running everywhere, and an oversized Jenga that occasionally collapses noisily.
But overall — despite the move, the name change, and the influx of thousands — TreasureFest is still a damn good time. It’s easy to spend hours sifting through racks of old denim shirts and hemp overalls, and even easier to somehow drop $100 on things you don’t need. In other words, it’s a perfect fair — antique or not.
TreasureFest, last weekend of every month, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Pier 1, Treasure Island, San Francisco. $5; treasurefest.com
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