Making shows fun again: Zurko Promotions combines ad show with Grayslake event

GRAYSLAKE, Ill. – A long line of shoppers took advantage of a sunny day to line up for the first Zurko Promotions combination antique advertising and general line antiques and collectables show Sept. 12-13.

“It’s two shows for the price of one,” said promoter Bob Zurko, adding that there were more than 100 advertising vendor tables plus the usual 1,000 tables for the regular event at the new Lake County Fairgrounds near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.

Dealer Jerry Plockelman, Palos Park, Ill., is known for showing an unusual mix of antiques, and he didn’t disappoint shoppers at the Zurko event. Many browsers stopped to gawk at his turn-of-the-century 10-foot-long three panel oak post office wall, complete with service window and glass-metal mesh sections, priced at $450. Other shoppers checked out two of eight sets of 8-foot-tall stacking bookshelf sets at $850 per set and a legal size four-drawer quartersawn oak veneer file cabinet for $250.

Judy Saylor and Bill Kelly from Antiques By Judy joined forces to set up at the fairgrounds. Kelly pointed out two “desirable” toys, a 1928 Buddy-L 2-foot-long steel dump truck for $1,295 and a 2-foot-long Mighty Tonka metal grader, circa 1960s, for $75. The dealer said he had been showing at the Grayslake show since “Bob (Zurko, the promoter) and I were both young.”

“Mark it sold” said Bob Zidek of Skokie, Ill., with a smile. The dealer wrapped up an early 1900s 18- by 20-inch wooden Fairy Soap Advertising box priced at $250. Pepsi Cola advertising collectors stopped to “ooh and ahh” over his 1909 Pepsi calendar topper showing a lavishly dressed lady with a bottle of the famous soft drink that could be taken home for $1,200.

Ted Wahlfeld traveled to the fairgrounds from Peoria, Ill., bringing with him “over 500 pieces of antique advertising items priced from $5 to $6,900.” The most expensive item? A countertop 1930s Wards Lime Crush soda fountain syrup dispenser. Still another, a Buckeye Root Beer syrup dispenser, could be displayed for $4,900.

Also from Peoria, Greg and Anne Rosenak pointed out a colorful 1960s life size fully dressed electric animated clown, priced at $850, a 3- by 5-foot 1940s Whistle Soda Pop tin advertising sign for $975, and a menacing 20-inch tall papier mache rat chewing on a poison biscuit, priced $975.

“Regular shoppers stop by to see and give treats to Sophie,” said dealer Kristine Hutson, Harvard, Ill. The Sophie she spoke of is a 4-year-old English bulldog that made herself at home on top of an early 1900s porcelain-topped baker’s table. The table, minus the dog, could be taken home for $165.

Famous advertising figures showing human features as well as other vintage items filled the booth of Mike Karberg, Schererville, Ind. The figurals included a 1940s Weyenburg Shoes man, $1,150, an Esky Esquire man, $2,500, Coopers Underwear man, $350, and a 1930s Dayton V-Belts worker for $1,250. Karberg said he enjoyed showing at Grayslake and was “happy with purchases made at the show.”

Still another figure, but this one a countertop 1920s 50-pound bronze featuring an “art deco lady and goat,” was shown by Marcia and Mitch Weisz, Crystal Lake, Ill. The piece, designed by Paul Silvestre and titled “Very Playful” was priced at $3,300. At the same spot, an unusual sleeping duck decoy could be purchased for $245, and an 1890s porcelain 8-inch plate with art nouveau daisy design was offered for $95.

The calling card of Barbara Lenzke, Vernon Hills, Ill., states, “elegant fusion jewelry.” The dealer showed off three different antique jade bi-disc bracelets with handwoven wrapped silk along with “three to four thousand other pieces” priced from $10 to $500 each. Calling attention to her “regular customers,” she’s been a regular dealer at the Grayslake show for four years.

Dealers Charlie and Debra McNabb traveled to the show from Lena, Wis., to set up and also to promote their new venture, an Internet auction service. The couple pointed out an 8-foot-long wood carousel horse pulling a cart, priced at $3,500, and an 1860s Civil War hat with maker’s label inside for G.F. Foster and Son for $350. The new auction service—BiddersNetwork!—is said to offer real auctioneers, live Web cast auctions and free membership.

The combined advertising and general antique merchandise show was the first offered by Bob Zurko, Zurko Promotions, but “won’t be the last” according to the promoter. Among other combined events being planned are with accents on coins and stamps, Civil War, vintage clothing along with toys and comics.

The regular Grayslake Antique and Collectable Show runs the second Sunday of each month.

For more information, call 715-526-9769 or visit

Photos by Jack Kelly.