ROUND TOP, Texas – “Marburger Farm has done it again,” said jubilant dealer Larry Arnold of Castlerock, Colo. “And this was our best Marburger ever.” While the rest of America pondered the economy, the blockbuster Marburger Farm Antique Show burst across the Texas pasture with no looking back. Americana dealer Don Orwig of Corunna, Ind., agreed: “We had the best opening day we have ever had and ended up with a fantastic show.”
The April 1-5 spring edition of the show brought excitement to customers and relief to dealers. The central Texas weather was perfect and the bluebonnets bloomed on cue. “This is a celebration,” said shopper Beth DeLapp. “Marburger Farm has been fabulous. I am so glad to be here.” Many shoppers described an intangible quality of the 11-year-old event. It seemed to be more fun.
Maybe it’s because the dealers were so glad to be there. “In the first 45 minutes of the show,” said Charlotte, N.C., dealer Nancy Harper of Harper House Fine Art & Antiques, “I sold $30,000.” Harper sold French oil paintings, accessories and furniture, including a 1750 walnut side table. “Marburger customers recognize the best items right away and they get so excited. I do many shows, but Marburger Farm is my very favorite show.”
Margaret Marsh, Rick McConn and Ashley Ferguson, the show’s new owners, not only survived but enjoyed their first show. “We had an easy load in, a record opening gate and good results for our dealers,” said Ashley Ferguson. “The fall show is selling out. We feel very fortunate and we appreciate everyone’s help.”
On Wednesday, Sue Whitney came to help promote the show and the new book that she and Ki Nassauer have just published, Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers with Junkmarket Style (Taunton Press). Before a book signing and re-purposing talk, Whitney was accompanied by show owner Margaret Marsh on a “Green Ribbon Tour” of the show, giving awards for the best re-purposed antiques on display. “I LOVE Marburger Farm,” said Whitney. “I had a blast.”
Cheryl and Bob Daniel of Dadeville, Ala., were good candidates for Whitney’s green ribbon. From Marburger’s restored Silver Dollar Saloon, they sold 50 lamps created out of re-purposed antique objects, from rare French confit pots to churns to Mediterranean olive jars to Staffordshire figurines. Kim and David Leggett of Newbern, Tenn., sold an expanding industrial table from a dye-makers shop. “The buyer plans to adapt it for a bar.”
“I had to laugh to myself,” said dealer Thomas Hoke, “when 10 a.m. early buying struck and the customers just about fell over each other rushing by the yellow tape.” Country French expert Charles Faudree shopped in Hoke’s booth with a client. “He was ecstatic, finding fabulous things.” Hoke sold an English leather wingback sofa, a Persian rug, oil paintings and a 19th century French majolica basket.
Partly due to the show’s overlap with spring break and partly due to the children of the show’s new owners, the antiquers at Marburger Farm are getting younger. Many shoppers brought their children and grandchildren and many dealers brought their extended families. There was a lightness and fun spirit to the show that some attributed to the presence of so many young people and so many families shopping and working together. Teenager Hannah McQueen came from Indiana with her mother, Lisa, of Queenie Tin Mirror Co. “It was work, but fun. Marburger Farm was a lot bigger than I expected.” What did Hannah buy? “Vintage belt buckles, of course.”
Three tiny sisters stood looking at the show-stopping booth of Michael and Lynn Worden of Burr Oak, Mich. Each wore a colorful tapestry top from Marburger exhibitor Magnolia Pearl with a matching cowgirl hat. What have you learned at the show? “Well,” one replied, “there’s lots of stuff that’s not the same, there’s not two of one thing.” You mean one-of-a-kind? “Yes!”
One-of-a-kind, unique, unusual and sometimes just flat awesome – words that shoppers associate with the merchandise of Marburger’s nearly 400 dealers from 35 states and several countries. Spread across 13 historic buildings and nine giant tents, the unusual ranges from the huge carved wooden Harley-Davidson brought by Dolce of Palm Beach to the 5-foot diameter by 3-foot iron painted king’s crown, a 19th century theatrical prop in the booth of Urban Country from Santa Monica, Calif. Urban Country sold a 1930s carved carousel giraffe, carnival artifacts and industrial items such as early molds from a Bronx toy factory and large industrial carts that buyers are repurposing as coffee tables in loft-style homes.
The loft-size Marburger booths and the five-day show encourage dealers to bring more merchandise than to most shows. “I bring a lot of merchandise,” says Phyllis Unrein of Houston, who sold from the restored Marburger Dance Hall. “I am the ‘more is better’ look.” Unrein sold furniture and smalls, including English bamboo furniture, prints, estate jewelry, Chinese, French and Russian items, books, tole trays and Barbola mirrors. “I thought the new owners did a marvelous job on their first outing. I am very happy with the direction that the show is taking.”
The Fall Marburger Farm Antique Show runs Tues. Sept. 29 through Sat. Oct. 3, 2009. For information on vendors, travel, maps, lodging, shipping and special events, visit www.roundtop-marburger.com or call 800-999-2148 or 800-947-5799.
All photos courtesy of Marburger Farm Spring Antique Show.