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Olmsted County Gold Rush held its 50th market this weekend

One of the vendors can say he's been there since the beginning.

al batzel gold rush
Al Batzel talks with a young potential buyer and his mother at Gold Rush Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Rochester.
Abby Sharpe / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — The 50th edition of Gold Rush, the Olmsted County Antique Show and Market, began Friday, May 13, 2022, and there’s at least one vendor that can say he’s been participating in Gold Rush since the beginning.

Al Batzel started working the show with his father on day one of the market. The items he sells – trinkets and vintage collectibles, mostly – came from an assortment of auctions, discount places and estate sales.

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He sells most items for under $5 now, candidly saying that “more than half of this is worthless now.” Batzel still barters with potential buyers, though, with some of them unwilling to part with more than one dollar.

“If you don’t have a dollar, you should just go home,” he said, laughing.

Batzel’s booths feature an assortment of Coca-Cola merchandise, pictures, pin-back buttons and figurines. It takes him about eight hours to set up for a show.

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If, or when, items sell completely depend on the buyers that show up. Batzel said he sold products Friday that haven’t moved for about six years.

The 66-year-old said things have changed since the first antique show was held.

gold rush
Some of Batzel's Coca-Cola branded merchandise for sale at Gold Rush Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Rochester.
Abby Sharpe / Post Bulletin

“People have enough junk now,” Batzel said. He pointed out that buyers were mostly older, though some families browsed booths on Saturday. The turnout has steadily decreased over the last few years.

However, the business used to be good. Batzel said he could sell $8,000 worth of items in three days during the markets he participates in, which include Marigold Days in Mantorville and Warrens Cranberry Festival in Wisconsin.

Batzel also sets up a 100-foot run at the state fair for John Deere. Though selling his items hasn’t been easy, he’s still having fun. Batzel isn’t looking to retire anytime soon.

“I’ll quit when it starts to feel like work,” he said.

gold rush
Pictures and figurines for sale at Gold Rush Saturday, May 14, 2022 in Rochester.
Abby Sharpe / Post Bulletin

Related Topics: ROCHESTERPEOPLE
Abby Sharpe joined the Post Bulletin in February 2022 after graduating from Arizona State University with a sports journalism degree. While at ASU, she created short- and long-form stories for audio and digital. Readers can reach Abby at 507-285-7723 or asharpe@postbulletin.com.
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