Labor Day weekend brings the annual Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market — easily the mother of all flea markets and an event that turns the sleepy Carroll County Town into a bustling city of thousands upon thousands packing the streets, parking in yards and open fields and rummaging through junk, out-of-stock merchandise, whatnots and — of course — guns.

Over the years, the gun show and flea market has evolved into a mixture of overt hucksterism, carnival sideshow and a gathering where North Carolinia yuppies mix with redneck locals to look for bargains that appear less and less frequently among the overpriced offerings from China.

Flea market regulars note that while prices continue to rise, quality falls. Many of the guns for sale inside the VFW Hall can be bought for less at a gun store and vendors now want premium prices for used items that are no longer bargains.

Still, the crowds come looking for the inevitable bargain or the last minutes sales that some when the vendors face the end of the weekend and the choice of dumping unsold inventory or taking it home.

It’s a Labor Day tradition.