The NY LP Vinyl Records & CDs Fair returned to the Broome County Regional Farmers Market this past Sunday for collectors and music lovers alike.
The Broome County Regional Farmers Market occupies two large rooms in a large, well lit-building that was intended to resemble the structure of a barn. This antique take on the venue complimented the physical medium of the vinyl record well. This, in combination with overhead light fixtures that hung cozily from the ceiling and the vintage analog sound, created an atmosphere that was conducive to the collectors’ experience.
It was a fun place to be, regardless of your involvement in the vinyl community. The fair ran with free entry from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but some more ambitious collectors had the opportunity to pay a $5 early entry fee to arrive at 8:00 a.m. instead.
Long gray tables lined the walls, with little to no empty space on any of them. The underbelly of the tables had LED light strips, illuminating the several dozens of boxes of “dollar records” that sat on the floor. In the center of the two connected rectangular rooms was another setup of gray tables.
In one room, the vendors stood in the center of a smaller rectangle created by the tables, whereas in the other, one long line of tables was browsed by the customers — of which there were plenty. One collector, Tom Scalzo, 45, described the turnout as a welcome surprise, as many of the attendees seemed to appreciate how the fair brought together a disconnected community of music enthusiasts.
“I can’t believe how many people are in here,” Scalzo said. “We couldn’t even find a place to park. You get into conversations with people about random stuff. It’s kind of a lot more fun than just sitting by yourself at home.”
The vendors also seemed particularly grateful to see such a lively, excited and young crowd engaging in the classic pastime. Jess Bennett, 32 — a vendor at the fair — was appreciative of the chance to see the community get together in a way that isn’t always possible for fans of the medium. Bennett is the owner of the online record store “Sweet Baby Angel Music,” where they express their passion for music through the purchase and sale of records and CDs.
Bennett elaborated on their enthusiasm for music collecting.
“It can be kind of an isolating hobby, so it’s really nice to get together like this, to see the community and what people are listening to, what makes it alive,” Bennett said. “I think it’s a really good way to connect. It’s kind of a commitment to the artist that you like.”
Scalzo expanded on this idea during his time at the fair.
“The experience is a little more interesting than streaming random songs,” Scalzo said. “Committing yourself to an hour or so of music that you’re gonna listen to end-to-end, I like to do that.”
Beyond committing to an artist, Bennett said there is also something inherently personal about record collecting, especially in including vinyl as a medium. There is a wonder in the individuality of each and every record that the collector lays their hands on, Bennett said.
“The vinyl record is really special because it’s a recording, it’s imperfect,” Bennett said. “It’s never gonna sound as good as a digital copy, but it’s yours.”
This uniqueness was everywhere to be seen in the Broome County Regional Farmers Market on Sunday. In one vendor’s bin sat a vintage soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” a CD that acted as a conversation-starter for many passerby during the height of the fair’s crowd.
It was clear that these hobbyists shared a special connection with the pastime, and the event ultimately gave an insightful glimpse into the diverse world of music collecting.
“It’s really special to connect with people and talk to people about the music they like,” Bennett said.
It seems like this physical medium is here to stay.