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Notes from an Antiques Festival: The 2011 Round Lake Antiques Festival

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A Look at the 2011 Round Lake Antiques Festival

Round Lake Antiques FestivalThe shelves of my room are filled with figurines I started to collect from the Red Rose tea boxes my parents and grandparents often gave to me when I was younger. When my obsession for the statuettes went beyond the bounds of what was currently offered by the tea company into older collections, my parents would encourage me to wait for the antique show in Round Lake, their yearly destination every last weekend in June.

I cannot claim a special passion for antiques. But over the years I have developed an appreciation for the annual antique show. Now in its 34th year, the 2011 antiques show was held in the town of Round Lake on June 25 and 26, along the part of the Zim Smith Mid County Trail that runs closest to the town. Each year the show draws almost 250 vendors and thousands of buyers, most of whom are more like spectators with today’s economy.

Allman Promotions LLC of Clayton, NY organizes the Round Lake Antiques Festival with sponsorship from the Women’s Round Lake Improvement Society. Allman Promotions is a national company, organizing the Great American Antiquefest in Syracuse and several shows throughout Florida along with Round Lake year-round.

The antique vendors at the show came from all over upstate New York, but some were from places all over the country, following a trail of shows to get business from passionate antique buyers. For many dealers at Round Lake the next show is in Cooperstown. The owner of an antique store in Johnstown told me how the clientele at each show varies. “In Cooperstown, sports memorabilia obviously sells more,” he said. What sells at Round Lake? Apparently china pieces. Nearly every tent or booth carried collections of china dishes, bowls and cups. Comparatively, none seemed unique from the other sets, except for a large collection of jade wares at Misty Pond Books and Collectibles’s booth, including tea cups, coffee cups, a juicer, and salt and pepper shakers.

Other collectibles included many old toys. “Lucy’s Bear-eed Treasure” is a national seller, coming all the way from Naples, Florida to sell at the show. Her tent housed several German-made “Steiff” brand bears, Winnie-the-pooh stuffed animals from the middle of the past century, among other antique playthings, all toys that by now are more admired as works of art on shelves rather than played with. Their stitches and fabrics remained in mint condition, but were not as fresh as the TY beanie babies located in several booths across the way, now joining the pantheon of toy collectibles—a popular item featured in the front of tents of many upstate antique owners to attract younger passerbys.

Secondhand items were not the only wares for sale. Some vendors brought their own crafts, or were devoted to restoring items to their former mint-condition glory. Stuffer’s Antiques, based in Ontario, deviated from selling secondhand items with handmade wood crafted “harvest” tables, coffee tables, benches and kitchen chairs stained with greens, blues and reds: mint condition reproductions of their antique predecessors. The antique restoration and reproduction of vinyl sounds is the passion of Nipper’s Choice. Their tent was populated with phonographs and victrolas of all shapes and sizes, the bigger pieces newly painted with flowers inside their horns. Engaging in conversation with a shopper, a salesman noted, “You just can’t get that raspy, deep sound any more,” as both listened to an old jazz vinyl.

Most regulars know what dealers to expect each year. “I’ve come here every year for ten years to see the civil war vendor,” a middle aged woman told me at my lunchtime picnic table, calling herself a civil war historian and collector of sorts. The man sitting across from her recounted the fifteen fedoras he’s bought over the years from the hat vendor down the way. Some, including my parents, reflected on how they liked to look at the jewelry and furniture, but could never see themselves buying it at the dollar amounts written on the numerous neon-colored stickers.

But many others know that the bargains to be sought and had may not be at the sticker price. Watching customers and dealers haggle has always been a great source of entertainment for me.

A woman sheepishly speaks to a vendor, “Would you take $25?”

“No, only the sticker price.” After a couple seconds of silence, the vendor adds, “It’s virtually impossible to find those wooden spoons anywhere.”

“Oh, I wasn’t arguing.”

I relayed my musings to a dealer as she replenished her ½ price table. She responded with slight disgruntlement, explaining that a couple wanted items from her discount table at a further 25% discount.

Such extreme haggling may seem desperate, but after three days of selling, many of the booths were still fairly loaded with items. Compared to previous years, my family and I couldn’t help but notice that the show was much more subdued. Maybe it’s the state of the economy, or things may have been slow because it had rained all day the previous day, leaving puddles and mud on the trail. Regardless, there’s no better place to be to browse collections of antiques.

Click here for information on a future Round Lake Antiques Festival.

–Michael Koester is an Assistant Editor for The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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