This article was originally published in Antique Trader
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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – In the spring of 1986, the world’s largest show for collectors and decorators burst onto the boardwalk, setting an all-time attendance record for The Miss America Auditorium.
On April 14-15, 2012 Norm Schaut’s huge “Antique City” Fun Fair will be staged at the Lehigh University Field House (directions) in Bethlehem, Pa. With the Sands Casino Resort as a supporting neighbor, their patrons will become the festival’s customers.
This year, Pennsylvania’s largest and most diverse indoor antique show will present 250 exhibitors from 32 states, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and Italy offering everything from furnishings to fine art, jewelry to jukeboxes, porcelains and postcards to dolls and trains to ships and planes.
Historic Bethlehem is perfectly located in the fastest-growing and third most populous region of the state. The area is famous for Renninger’s Antique Market and is conveniently served by the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
With an increase in attendance of more than 400 percent between Schaut’s first and second Pennsylvania fairs, why would he change anything?
The veteran producer explains, “A number of exhibitors, who started with us a quarter of a century ago, suggested that ‘The Happiest Show On Earth’ would be an even bigger attraction if we returned to one annual megashow as it was during our fabulous first eight years. Advance ticket sales prove they were right.
“Continuing at our former location in Oaks would have required a significant increase from $210 to $250 for a pipe and draped booth or we would have had to reduce the advertising significantly. When retail sales are soft, it’s time for more advertising, not less,” he emphasized.
The show’s new and permanent home is the enormous Rauch Fieldhouse at Lehigh University, a vaulted ceiling, column-free venue that hosts regionalhome and automobile shows. Every booth and aisle will be comfortably carpeted for this event.
Thanks to the special consideration that Lehigh has extended, funds are available to support a massive advertising campaign on television, radio, highway billboards and social networking sites, plus literally millions of direct mail, newspaper, magazine and collector publication coupons admitting two adults at $5 each rather than $15 at Oaks.
The Sands Casino Resort offers frequent, low-cost, luxury motorcoaches serving Manhattan, Philadelphia and other points. A complementary shuttle will run frequently between the casino and the show.
On Sunday, from 1-4 p.m., Lehigh’s undergraduate and graduate student body of 7,000 will be invited guests. This courtesy is being extended to other colleges and universities within 60 miles, including the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.
Importantly, a professionally conducted exit poll will identify categories of interest to the next generation of young collectors. This data will be shared with Antique Trader so all promoters and dealers can benefit.
All Sunday ticket sales and appraisal fees at the ‘The Happiest Show On Earth’ will be donated to area charities including St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem and The Sanctuary at Haafsville in Pennsylvania, which provides animals with a temporary or permanent home in a humane and respectful way.
To avoid the box office lines and order $8 Kwik-Tickets visit Antique City. Saturday 8 a.m. preview tickets are available for $10.
Articles on Pennsylvania antiques and collectibles
- Antique City Fun Fair draws big Saturday crowds in suburban Philly for 300 exhibitors of toys, antiques and collectibles
- ‘Antique City’ Fun Fair becomes new major show in Philly’s Antiques Week
- ‘Antique City’ Fun Fair giving away 47,000 free tickets to April 9-10 show
- Schaut launching Philadelphia’s ‘Fun Fair of Fine Collectibles’
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