Promoter Larry Wood looked back with nostalgia as shoppers and vendors alike crowded onto the Allegan County Fairgrounds on June 29 for the monthly Allegan Antiques Market.
The reason for the reflective look? The June show marked a milestone: the 30th anniversary for the popular monthly venue that started with just under 200 dealers and has mushroomed into a usual sold-out show with 400 dealers running from April through September.
“I’ve been showing here since the first event,” said retired teacher Doug Faulker of Muskegon, Mich. The dealer said, “Lots has changed over the years,” adding, “I wouldn’t have set up for all that time if I didn’t enjoy it.” Toy collectors stopped at his booth to eye an 8-inch-tall one-arm Popeye on roller skates tin litho toy priced at $125. “He may have lost a fight with Bluto” quipped the dealer. At the same spot, a three-piece hand-carved owl desk set, circa 1800s, with glass eyes, could grace your table for $295.
Eighty-year-old Bob Fettig and wife Jalene, are 15-year veterans at the fairgrounds show and are known for offering offbeat items. “I like the unusual,” said Fettig, pointing to a handcrafted 48-inch-long wood and metal working model of a farm bean grader, complete with 12-volt motor, separate scale, scoop and tiny bags of beans. The tabletop grader could be running in your kitchen for $350. A 19-inch-long Air-Chime five-horn locomotive horn “so loud it would drive you out of the house” was offered for $565.
It’s a four-hour drive for northern Michigan regulars Tom and Karol Streling of Kewadin, Mich. The couple quickly sold a 1920s 24-drawer refinished printer’s cabinet for $1,295. Also drawing attention at their booth was an 1898 floor model nickel over brass National Cash Register with quartersawn oak base tagged at $1,250.
It was an even longer drive for Thatcher Goetz, coming to Allegan from Goetzville, Chippewa County, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He marked “sold” on a 23-inch-tall sewer-tile constructed 1870s chimney pot priced $110. Art collectors admired a Mary Ella Dignan artist 14- by 24-inch autumn scene oil painting priced at $950. The dealer’s surname and town name reflect his great-grandfather’s roots — he founded the town many years ago.
Fine refinished oak furniture filled the booth of Jerry Krenk from nearby Schoolcraft, Mich. Many people stopped to gawk at a 7-foot 7-inch tall massive turn of century china buffet with fancy plaster of Paris shell design center insert and all original re-silvered beveled mirrors, offered for $3,700. Others stopped to admire and touch his quartersawn oak Robbins table with six self-storing leafs and fluted legs, priced at $2,250. Krenk has been an Allegan regular since the late 1980s.
Pop art and poster collectors stopped for a look at two 1971 collectables brought to the show by Tom Kage of Northville, Mich. Both lithographed paper pieces promoted the “John Sinclair Freedom Rally” in Ann Arbor, Mich., with appearances by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. A 17- by 22-inch full color offering was priced $895 and a two-color 10- by18-inch offering was $295.
Verton and Pat Yoder, who have a booth at Pickers Paradise, Niles, Mich., showed a 27-inch-tall primitive Amish pine wood shelf, circa 1800s with original paint, for $140 and a pair of 1920s wood and metal folding sweetheart chairs for $50 each. The couple have been selling at Allegan for 12 years.
“A girl can’t have too many purses,” said first-time Allegan dealer Barbera Yuber from Trenton, Mich. Dozens of vintage examples, many beaded models, priced from $45 to $1,000 filled her spot. They included a 1920s beaded basket shape for $175, a butterfly bag at $165, a turn of century pouch purse at $145, and a floral wreath pattern micro beaded purse for $225. The kintergarden teacher and part-time antique dealer said she was “enjoying the show.”
Debra Coleman, a vintage toy dealer, drove three hours from Perrysburg, Ohio, to show off recent collectable toys and pop art items. She estimated she had a stock of 20,000 items on display at her fairgrounds booth, including a large group of mid-1960s rock and roll magazines priced at $20 each. Cracker Jack collectors swarmed around a display of “over 465 Cracker Jack pieces” from a recently purchased collection. Coleman added that she was “overwhelmed sometimes at the numbers of items in storage ready for display.”
As the Allegan Antique Market rounds out its 30th year, is promoter Larry Wood thinking about retirement? He smiled as he shook his head no, adding, “my kids joined me in the last five years.” They include Kellie Wood, Terri Leighton, and Shawn Wood, along with three grandchildren, Christian, 18, Shelby, 15, and Gabby, 13. He said, “the kids are working into it, but not totally,” adding, “I’ll be hanging around as long as I’m able to.”
Thinking back on the first show, he said, “I pitched a tent to stay here on the fairground, but never slept in it all night long.” Now he says, “We can afford to stay in a hotel room with running water.”
The Allegan Antique Market runs the last Sunday of each month from April through September at the fairgrounds in Allegan, Mich., a 20-minute drive from Grand Rapids. For more information, call 616-735-3333 or visit www.alleganantiques.com.