We provide 1 parking pass per reservation with 2 night stays, if you need additional parking passes, please let us know at time of booking, they are $8.00 each or you can get them at Old Mill Marketplace Complex Office. Only good to park at The Old Mill Marketplace Complex at 542 East Dallas Street, on Hwy 64 East one block from Downtown Canton, Texas. Park here and ride the shuttle bus to Main Grounds about 6-8 blocks away.
One is provided with all two-three day stays at no charge (one only), if you have multiple cars you will have to purchase one for each car at Old Mill Marketplace Office. Just tell the attendant that you need to go to office to purchase or order at time of booking.
You will be able to Shop The Mountain, The Village & Pavilion Shops, The Mini Mall in Pavilion #2, The Wedding Pavilion #6, The Wholesale Pavilion #7, The Pickers Pavilion #3, and lots of fantastic Food! All at Old Mill Marketplace Complex and First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas!
Welcome to Canton, Texas Home of the World Famous Canton First Monday Trade Days and The Mountain. Canton was surveyed as early as 1840 by a company of men under Dr. W. P. King. The community stands on the original survey of Jesse Stockwell, an early settler in the area. No settlement was made until 1850, when the town was laid out and named by settlers moving from Old Canton in Smith County, Texas. The first district courthouse at Canton opened in 1850, and a post office, the county's fourth, was established in that year. When the Texas and Pacific Railway was built across the county in 1872, it missed Canton by ten miles (16 km), and the citizens of Wills Point persuaded county officials to move the county seat there. In the resulting dispute, in 1877 armed residents of Canton went to Wills Point to recover the records, and the county judge wired Governor Richard B. Hubbard for aid. The Texas Supreme Court finally decided in favor of Canton. Unwilling to use the railroad at Wills Point, Canton businessmen established Edgewood ten miles (16 km) to the northwest of town, and built an extension to the railroad at a siding formerly called Stevenson. Property for the town's first school, the Canton Academy, was acquired in 1853. Sid S. Johnson began publication of the Canton Weekly Times, the county's first newspaper, in 1860. A Grange was founded in 1876. By 1890 Canton had a population of 421, flour mills, sawmills, cotton gins, and a bank. Brick buildings were under construction by 1892 and a new brick courthouse was completed in 1894. Iron ore and anthracite coal were discovered in 1887 and 1891. By 1896, the town reached a population high of 800 and had several churches, a steam gristmill and gin, two weekly newspapers, three general stores and two hotels. But the population had fallen back to 421 by 1904. Canton was incorporated in 1919, and elected a mayor and aldermen. Despite the Great Depression, development of the Van oilfield after 1929 brought further expansion. A Public Works Administration project in the 1930s saw the completion of a new courthouse. In 1933 area schools registered 500 white and twenty-eight black students. The population reached 715 in 1940, but dwindled again after 1949. In the 1950s, local business included a sweet-potato curing plant, an ice factory, a concrete-tile factory, lumber yards, and a cotton gin. Expansion of the Canton city limits doubled its territory in the 1960s. In 1970 the community had a municipal lake with recreational facilities, seven churches, a school, a bank, a library, a newspaper, and eighty-six businesses. The population doubled between 1960 and 1970 from roughly 1,000 to 2,000, and reached nearly 3,000 by 1990. The population was 3,292 in 2000. However, when the city council decided to recount the population, they found that the town had 5100 residents instead of the previous census total of 3,292. Canton is known for its First Monday Trade Days. According to various sources, the tradition began with district court meetings held on the first Monday of each month, or with the monthly visit of neighbors during the days of the Confederate States of America. The custom began with the swapping of surplus stock by barter and grew to include casual bargaining for or swapping of dogs, antiques, junk, and donkeys on a 30-acre (120,000 m2) grounds. It is so immensely popular that Canton goes from a town of 5,100 to a town of over 300,000 during each First Monday weekend, making it the largest flea market in the world.In the past, due to the success of First Monday, the city of Canton had no property tax. However, as of 2006, that is no longer the case. Canton also holds The Van Zandt County Fair and Rodeo and an Annual Bluegrass Festival, which takes place in August. Between 2003 and 2007, Canton was the host community for the United States Equestrian Drill Championship (Super Ride), which showcases top color guard and mounted drill teams from throughout the country. On April 29, 2017, the city and county sustained severe damage from four tornadoes. Reports of four fatalities and dozens of injured prompted opening of displacement shelters as a disaster declaration was made for Van Zandt County. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered state resources to the area to offer assistance to local official. First Monday Trade Days is a monthly flea market held in Canton, Texas. The market is actually held on the Thursday through Sunday preceding the first Monday of each month. It purports to be the largest and oldest continually operated flea market in the United States, and is a highly popular event in the area. Depending on the time of year, up to 100,000 shoppers can and will frequent the fair in a weekend. IT ALL BEGAN … in the 1850′s when the circuit judge stopped in Canton on the FIRST MONDAY of each month. This was the day the Judge held court. People from the area came to town on that day to conduct their business, stock their pantries and sit in on court proceedings … and watch a few “hangings”. History relates one incident where a man was hung for stealing his partner’s wagon of goods for trading. He is buried facing south (not east) in Hillcrest Cemetery by the First Monday grounds. Quite naturally, many also brought their own goods, produce and livestock with them to sell or trade. This took place just off the west side of the courthouse square. Most history versions include the trading of wild horses, which were rounded up in the region and brought to Canton to sell. By 1965, FIRST MONDAY had outgrown the Town Square, It was then that the City of Canton purchased six acres just two blocks north of the courthouse. FIRST MONDAY was moved off the square. Originally, FIRST MONDAY only “happened” on the first Monday of each month. However, if you take a look NOW at the calendar, you will note that Monday has been excluded. Even though the event goes from Thursday – Sunday, the name is now and will forever be known as: FIRST MONDAY TRADE DAYS. First Monday Trade Days began sometime in the 1850s. As was common in those days, the circuit judge would stop in certain areas on specific days to hold court sessions. People came to town on those days to see the court proceedings and to conduct business. Canton's designated day was the first Monday of each month, hence the origin of the name. Since most of Van Zandt County was open range at that time, a state law required that all stray horses be brought into Canton and auctioned to the highest bidder. These horses had been picked up on the range and boarded by the farmers until the day of the auction. People came from all around to participate, and this became known as "First Monday Trades Day", sometimes called "Horse Monday". Soon the people were bringing their own horses and dogs to sell or trade, and as the years passed, they began to bring their excess crops, such as fresh produce, grain, and sugar cane syrup. Some dispute those claims and rely on the legend claiming that during middle nineteenth century, this trades day became an important custom to the rural people. With poor means of communication, people would wait until "First Monday" to come to Canton to see their relatives and friends, to make business arrangements, and to get the local news. During the election years, the politicians would center their campaigns around "First Monday". This event would accumulate more people of the county together at one time than any other function of its time. As the years passed and the population of Canton increased, the crowds at "First Monday" increased too—all without any planning or organization—just naturally. The trading area was on the streets. People would stroll up and down, trading, visiting and transacting their business. The townspeople began to look on the event with disdain, dreading the filth and confusion that cluttered their city. They finally passed a city ordinance prohibiting trade in the streets, but to no avail; the law could not be enforced. The crowds were too large for the small city to disperse. The only hope the city had was hopefully the custom would finally "play out" as had most of the other trades days in Texas. This did not come about. In the 1930s when the importance of the horse began to decline, it was thought that "First Monday" would vanish. There appeared about a ten-year void in Texas between the horse-raising era and the tractor era, and out of state horse traders began to bring in horses to supply this void. Horse buyers from all over the state began to attend "First Monday" and the crowds got larger and larger. It became known statewide as the place to buy a good "bronc". Then, in the 1940s, as the tractor came in and horses declined, hog trading took its place. Feeder pigs were raised locally, and soon they gained the reputation of being the cleanest and finest pigs sold anywhere --- cholera free. Buyers came in from all over Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas to buy these fine pigs. Dogs were also a commodity. At first, farmers would bring in strays and unwanted offspring; then the hunters started bringing their hound dogs. Soon the whole town was saturated with hound dogs, some selling for as much as $500. "First Monday" now became known all over the Southwest to dog fanciers as "Dog Monday". One could see anything from a Russian Setter to two types of specialized squirrel dogs (one to hunt gray squirrels and one to hunt fox squirrels). After the event, many of the worthless dogs were released, and Canton found itself flooded with stray dogs; it was soon necessary to hire a dog catcher. By 1950 the crowds were approaching the 5,000 mark, and space became a problem. One homeowner, a woman who owned a double lot, began patrolling her property with a broom to keep the people off. Finally, one trader offered to rent space from her. Then she started renting her entire area. Soon she was making $75 to $100 every "First Monday". Eventually other homeowners did the same. One widow was offered twenty-five cents for the use of her bathroom, and soon this was a big business too. As space became a premium, the traders began to arrive on Sunday in order to get the best space first. This created more serious problems. The churches began to complain about the congestion and activity on the Lord's Day. Sanitation became a big factor. These people had to stay over night in their cars and trucks because there were not adequate facilities in the small town. It was soon apparent that a city police force was needed to control and maintain order among these visitors. In the early 1960s, a man was bitten by a dog and died of rabies. A city ordinance was passed prohibiting dogs. The townspeople thought this might stop the trades day. It didn't. An individual bought 3 acres (12,000 m2) of land and began to have the dog trade there on his property. The city did require that they all be vaccinated and kept leashed or penned. The dog trade flourished, and so did the rest of trades day. Dog trading has always been a part of the history of Canton First Monday Trade Days, today the animal area is known as Dog Alley. With the crowds growing larger and people coming in on Sunday, the Mayor and the City Council decided something had to be done. Rules and regulations had to be enacted, a place found, and some kind of order established. Canton had not encouraged "First Monday" --- actually it had discouraged it --- but the custom had become entrenched into the culture of the people for over 100 years, and it looked as though it was there to stay. It had gained national recognition by this time. Feature stories had appeared in Life, Look, and The Saturday Evening Post. Texas newspapers periodically acclaimed its appeal and uniqueness. In 1965, the City of Canton began a plan of action. The City did not have the funds to move the trading area so Angus Travis, and Joe Hackney partnered and purchased six and a half acres of land north of the square and designated it as a trading area. The City leased the land from H & T Parking and the area was divided into spaces, and each space was rented for a nominal fee, depending upon the type of merchandise offered for sale or trade. This was a new beginning for an old tradition, with a plan for the future. In a short time, this area became filled to overflowing. As more land could be secured by the City, adjoining the original site, it was bought and developed for use. Today, the City of Canton has over 100 acres (0.4 km2), which can accommodate over 3,000 dealers. Despite numerous and repeated attempts by early city officials to discourage traders from doing business on the streets of the city, First Monday Trade Days continued and flourished. Eventually Canton realized that it could benefit from the popularity of the market, and purchased a site dedicated to it. The Mountain: Earlier History from the Beginning: The Legend of Wild Willie. It was 20+ years ago, when a tall, pony-tailed, white-bearded man and his band of dreamers began inviting the public to come experience the East Texas hillside they turned into a mountain town. Just a few months earlier, the bearded one, Dwight “Wild Willie” Martinek, and his son Dustin were driving in from Wimberley, Texas, to sell their welded artwork every month at First Monday Trade Days in Canton. One day he spotted the brush and tree-covered elevated property next to Old Mill Marketplace on Highway 64. Where others saw a nightmare of tangled briars, Martinek saw a town — an 1800s pioneer and western-themed mountain town. He leased the property from Old Mill and began to build and recruit shopkeepers and entertainers. It wasn’t long before others joined in his enthusiasm and began fulfilling their own dreams and soon Wild Willie’s Mountain popped up on the edge of the “world’s largest flea market.” Vendors brought unique products from as far away as Louisiana and Arkansas and others started planning entertainment and many found their place in the “land rush” of Willie’s mountain. A man called Teton Ken became the resident “mountain man” with his friendly mule and mule-riding dog, Tuffy. He built a replication of an underground mine to take visitors through and pan for gold. Susan Matassa opened a merchandise store, Buffalo Girls Pony Express, and dressed up and acted the part of Calamity Jane. Others opened an ice cream parlor, antique shops, and there were demonstrating artists with stone carvings, hand-dipped candles, and more. There was a sheriff’s posse patrolling on horseback, chuck wagon cook-offs, and eventually concerts with the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker and Charlie Daniels. It wasn’t long before people needed a place to stay over night and bed and breakfasts opened up on Wild Willie’s Mountain as well. The mountain town included places like Blacksmith Junction, an Indian camp, Dodge City, the Old Grist Mill, and Chicken Bob’s to name a few. They named the streets things like Lazy Daze Lane, Ridge Road, and Yukon Valley Trail and at various times of the day gunfighters and Western re-enactors would put on a show in the streets. At the end of one successful weekend Willie spoke to his mountain people in a newsletter note: “Where else in Canton could you see a ‘hanging,’ knife and hatchet throwing, chain-saw sculpting, singing, painting, building, and fellowship like we had? Nowhere except The Mountain.” Always the promoter, he took every opportunity to encourage the flock: “Keep the hammers and saws chiming through the mountain. It looks better and better every day and the folks visiting are totally impressed and enthused. We thank you for all your hard work and efforts to making the mountain a success. It’s working. Happy trails till next time, WW.” Wild Willie and the mountain people offered visitors a great shopping and entertainment experience and many came month after month to enjoy the festive atmosphere. By early 1997 there were hundreds of vendors on the mountain and thousands coming to visit every month. “Calamity Jane” Matassa remembers the early days well and said they were a community of people having a lot of fun. Along the way there were a few problems here and there but everyone worked hard to keep their dreams afloat, she said. Then an “avalanche” of events almost took down Wild Willie’s Mountain. “The port-a-potties went down the hill,” Matassa said. As Martinek recruited vendors, he promised to keep things running smoothly and be their primary marketing guy in exchange for their rent money. “He was a great promoter,” Matassa said. “He brought in tour buses and went to resort shows. He was a wheeler dealer and crossed some people but he always did me right.” As Martinek raked in the money he got from vendors and others, he began to live beyond his means. “He bought cadillacs, went to the boats, he thought it would never end. He overextended business to the max,” Matassa said. During this time the vendors grew increasingly angry over problems with bad roads and at one point they had no water. After a while of complaining to no avail, they placed their rent checks in escrow until improvements on the mountain were done. That occurred about the same time Martinek had just put down a wad of cash towards the purchase of adjacent land to continue his vision of adding more phases to the theme park. Financial struggles and regrets that he’d let so many people down, ultimately led Martinek to take is own life at the end of 1997 in ultimate Old West fashion — he hung himself. “He told his wife, ‘I’m going to go get a pack of cigarettes and he just killed himself,” she said. One of the vendors, Indian Ken, found him in the barn. It took a long while after Martinek’s death for the vendors to get their foot-hold, but they regrouped and continued the dream, renaming it The Mountain. In 1998 Matassa added bathrooms and turned her place into the Buffalo Girls Hotel that’s still going strong today. “Every First Monday I still dress up,” Matassa said. “I still act like I did when Willie was here. We’ve gone on and made the best of it.” The vendors of The Mountain hit another big snag November 9, 2013, when a good portion of the shops burned up in a devastating fire. “We’re still cleaning it up,” Matassa said. Their true-grit determination keeps them rebuilding, reinventing, and having fun. Her Annual CASI-sanctioned Chili Cook-Off takes place in April each year, benefiting local pet charities and drawing thousands. There are still gunfights and the David Cline stage provides country music every Friday and Saturday (of First Monday weekend). Retailers have products like designer hand bags, bling, home furnishings, western quilts, and The Mountain continues to be a favorite place for many. “I still love it,” Matassa said. “It’s beats a real job. I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me.” As for Martinek, she remains grateful for what he started. “I commend Willie for coming to Canton. I wish he would have done it right. Too much, too soon, too fast. I still believe in The Mountain.” There was a fire on the Mountain on May 14, 2016. Approximately Six to Nine buildings were destroyed in the fire. The Canton and Van Zandt Fire Departments, and local neighboring cities worked diligently and had the fire contained very soon. There were no injuries, and the mountain, is still open during Market. None of our rooms were damaged in the fire. The city, county and state fire marshal's have been on site investigating the fire. No cause was ruled undetermined/accidental. The Mountain has been plagued with some bad happening and even worse bad publicity. Most of the shops and Bed & Baths, have been inspected by the city inspector, and most of the open buildings have been brought to city code. This was done after the last fire on October 17, 2015, which burned 60 buildings. There was also the first original fire November 9, 2013. We are struggling to make the Mountain a safe place and we hope that people will continue to visit the Mountain, join us for entertainment and stay in one of the many Bed & Baths there. To make matters worse, there is a lot of bad publicity and inaccurate information floating around. The best way to know what is going on at the Mountain is to come see us for yourself. If you love the Mountain, please come by and support us. I look forward to seeing you at the Canton First Monday Trade Days Market. Please keep the guests, shop owners, Bed & Bath owners and the Mountain Properties in your prayers. The April 29, 2017 tornado did not damage the Mountain or the Trade Day Grounds. Please come visit us and support us as we rebuild and grow.
Information taken from: Taken from: The County Line Magazine; Wikipedia; Cantontx.gov; vanzandtcounty.gov;