Friday, April 12, 2013

Round Top Antiques Week Spring 2013

Twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, a GIANT antique festival occurs in the countryside  surrounding the tiny towns of Round Top and Warrenton, TX.  Throughout the fields, farms and towns, booths are set up by thousands of vendors, who come from all over the world.  Visitors & shopper, from near and far, hunt and search through the many wares.  Some booths are organized into specific venues (which may charge an admission fee) and others are just collections of vendor space crammed into a field.  Treasures can be found in a vast price range, from trinkets for just a dollar to very old pieces that go for tens of thousands of dollars.  The festival lasts over two weeks, but many of the most popular sites are open for just the last 5 or so days.  

The March issue of Martha Stewart Living featured a story about the festival. After reading the article several times, I knew that I wanted to go, especially since Round Top is within driving distance of where we live.  We even invited my husband's parents from South Carolina to visit us & together we would go explore the area surrounding the festival.  

We had only two full days to explore the miles and miles of vendors, so I did have to resign myself to knowing there was absolutely no way to see everything.  I started doing additional online research to see what were "must see" things and determined that we really needed to visit the Marburger Farm show one day and explore the fields surrounding Warrenton another day.   

Miraculously, I found lodging at the last minute in Bastrop, TX, so we only had a 50 mi trek every day.  Both Round Top and Warrenton are so small that they don't have much of any lodging options, and whatever options they do have are booked loooooong before the festival.  

Day 1: Marburger Farm Show

Of all the shows, the Marburger Farm show is one of the most curated.  It is one of the shows that is only open the last week of the festival & does require an admission fee, though once you pay & receive your wrist band, you can get back into the show on any future days too.  There are numerous tents, as well as outbuildings, stuffed to the gills with artfully decorated vendor spaces.  I was in heaven!

Unfortunately, it was unseasonably cold the day we visited, with cloudy skies and temperatures only reaching into the 40s.  We tried not to let the less than ideal weather keep our spirits down, though we did end up leaving for a bit to warm up & find somewhere with indoor space to eat lunch. The previous day it had been quite rainy, which thankfully didn't continue when we were there, but we did get to experience immense amounts of mud.  Many veteran shoppers prepared for the mud and wore rain boots--I know when I return for a future show, I will make sure I at least have some rain boots along in the car!  I wore my cowboy boots & they were quite muddy by the end of the day....

I loved the Marburger Farm show best for the inspiration & ideas it gave me. At this point in life, our small budget and small apartment do not allow us the luxury of purchasing expensive antiques. Believe me, there were plenty of things that I would have loved to take home. Beautiful furniture, linens, dishes, decor items, etc that all would have fit our style perfectly.  At least dreaming is free and I can look forward to the thought of perhaps someday visiting the show under different circumstances. 

Day 2: Warrenton & the surrounding areas 

On the second morning, we got on the road much later than I had originally planned and we hit the dreaded Antique Week traffic just outside of Warrenton.  I guess that it is just a fact of life when thousands of eager antique hunters all descend on a normally very tiny town.  

Thankfully the weather was much better for this second day, and we actually needed our sunscreen & hats. We found a field in Warrenton with free parking & set off to see as much as possible. There were booths as far as the eye could see.  This show had a much more industrial feel, mixed in with the vintage, antique and flea market wares. Lots of old (or possibly not old) rusty letters, old doors and windows, sculptural pieces, old street signs, architectural salvage, and even a couple of old airplanes! If you have ever seen the HGTV show Junk Gypsy, this also is where their ever popular booth (and Junk-o-rama Prom) are located.

Overall, the volume of things was quite a bit higher at this flea market/antique fair.  We were not just looking for treasures, we were hunting & digging through great piles for treasures.  And the prices were significantly lower.  Because this show had been open for  a number of days before we arrived, some areas were a little picked over. But at the same time, because the show was winding down, the vendors were more eager to sell things & were more willing to negotiate to lower prices.

We left the Round Top Antiques Week with ideas, fond memories, and a truly unique experience. I did get a few dessert molds & some mis-matched silverware, but primarily this visit was about inspiration & learning.  Already, we're taking what we learned from this show & planning a (hopeful) return in the fall for the next show!

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