Wanna get away? From the big city, technology, and stuffy personalities? Canton, off of I-20 in East Texas is where thousands of people escape to on a monthly basis for what they call First Monday Trade Days or Market Days (Thursday-Sunday prior to the first Monday of the month).
This weekend happens 12 times a year, rain or shine. It’s similar to Round Top’s twice-a-year Antique Show in that there are vendors spread out for miles. You can’t shop the whole area or grounds in one weekend, much less in one day (we spent about 3-4 hours shopping one area on a Saturday). Get a paper map, scout out the parking lots (most are $5/day) and develop a plan of attack for your shopping spree.
The next First Monday weekend is their biggest of the year, the one right before Christmas, when folks are in the mood to buy gifts. November 30-December 3 will be a holiday shopping mecca, with or without the cold weather. So if you get tired of the malls on Black Friday, or online ordering isn’t your thing, you have a chance to shop till you drop the weekend after everyone hits the malls.
To get the full experience of all that Canton has to offer, you’ll want to stay “On the Mountain” as they say. Cedar Flats Inn is one bed-and-breakfast on the mountain—which resembles a shabby chic colorful ghost town of sorts—with its 22 wooden buildings that house 70 bedrooms.
Cedar Flats Inn is the ideal lodging for groups of two to 100. You can mix and match a variety of their buildings to create the inn of your needs.
It’s rustic, so expect no frills (no cable or Wi-Fi) but the friendliest atmosphere Texans can offer. Innkeepers Suzanne and Ronnie Lindley are some of the most gracious hosts I’ve encountered. We had two rooms that were next to each other, two doubles beds and a private bathroom with small kitchenette in each one.
A full breakfast buffet is included with your night’s stay, just up the mountain at their café. (They’re known for their chocolate gravy.) Other perks to enjoy are golf cart rides whenever you need a lift to get around the property, portable metal shopping carts you can borrow for trade days, and a community grill.
The most memorable experiences of the weekend centered around the entertainment on the mountain. On Fridays and Saturdays of market weekends, Cline’s Corner (basically a small stage amidst the village) hosts live music for a couple of hours each night. We were lucky enough to catch a show featuring Texan Lisa Layne who was the star of Patsy Cline’s tribute shows for 23 years, including a permanent show in Branson, Missouri. Lisa is known for the uber-famous holiday tune “All I Want for Christmas is You,” that she recorded with Vince Vance in the ‘80s.
Right across from Cline’s Corner, get some old-timey photos taken at A Mustard Seed studio, where you can dress up in Old West clothing, grab a boa and a shotgun and say cheese. On the same road, you’ll find shops like Junk & Disorderly, God’s Little Coffee Shop, Tutu’s Too and a 365-days a year Christmas store.
Late night live music can be found at the top of the mountain at Boot Hill, a grill where you can order basic food like hamburgers, chicken salad and banana pudding in a mason jar, and it’s BYOB. Outside on the porch, you can dance the night away.
Take a step back in time to Canton and a small community that counts on each other (like they did when they rebuilt after a major fire two years ago), laughs at and with each other, two-steps with one another and doesn’t take life too seriously.