NOTE: The last winter Extravaganza of 2018 will be Feb. 16-18.
FEBRUARY 2016: Even though I had been warned, I was totally unprepared for the immensity of Renninger’s Antiques & Collectors Extravaganza, in Mount Dora.
Hundreds and hundreds of vendors were spread out over more than 100 hilly acres. And, of course, the three-day event, held only a few times per winter, draws huge crowds, with everything under the sun for sale.
A random sampling of the goods I encountered: old tools and kids’ toys, washers and dryers, mid-century furniture, license plates and chandeliers.
It’s the mother of all garage sales, except that shoppers with time and energy may find exactly what they’re on the hunt for.
Make that shoppers with time and energy who plan ahead.
I was accompanied on this Renninger’s shopping expedition by my mother and sister. We didn’t arrive until the afternoon of the Extravaganza’s last day. We didn’t bring a rolling cart like the organized shoppers, or drive a truck to haul home any extra-large purchases, even though my sister was on the lookout for furniture.
Luckily, what she scored was a very small wicker chair – for only $25. The chair didn’t fit in the trunk of my mom’s car, but we were able to squeeze it in the back seat.
After that, we wore out quickly, only lasting a couple of hours and not covering even half of the outdoor vendors.
The main thing that slowed us down was the heat – it was Feb. 21, but sunny and in the low 80s. That’s Florida for you, chilly one day and hot the next. (I bought the dorkiest sun hat for $1 – my only purchase of the day – but it wasn’t much help.)
To make the most of your Renninger’s experience, prepare before you go. Ideally, visit on a cool day, but be ready for the weather to change. The January Extravaganza would be the best bet if you favor cooler temps. Wear walking shoes and comfortable clothing. (I, at least, was smart enough to change into my tennis shoes before we arrived.) If it’s hot, wear a hat and sunglasses and drink plenty of water. They sell bottled water and sodas for only $1.
Bring plenty of cash because you never know what you might find that you can’t live without, and some of the vendors don’t take credit cards.
Sign up for the Renninger’s mailing list to make sure you don’t miss out on this event and others held year-round on the property, like the Vintage RV and Hot Rod Antiques Show or the Vintage Garden Show.
And, to find out where to stay, read my reviews below of Mount Dora B&Bs that I like.