Plan ahead for the Petaluma Antiques Faire

Editor’s Note: It’s never too early to start planning ahead for antiques shows and events you’ll attend in 2013, and if you’re in the San Francisco Bay area this coming April or September, the Petaluma Antique Faire is the place to be. Below is a report from the 2012 faire, submitted by Antique Trader contributor Joseph Truskot.

“What do you do with a pink-top table from the Fifties?” Cynthia Lyon asked and quickly answered. “You cover it with fifty pink items, of course!” From canisters to kewpies, mixers to shoe-stretchers, the pink display attracted buyers. Her welcoming smile helped, too. In fact, there was lots of good humor on hand at the 26th Petaluma Antique Faire, earlier this year, and also fantastic, sunny weather, a gentle breeze, and a capacity attendance of 10,000 happy shoppers.

“People are spending again.” Liz Dain cheerfully noted. “It’s been steady all day. The first thing I sold today was furniture which I don’t usually bring because it’s such a hassle to unload.” She had just demonstrated a cake stand that revolves while playing “Happy Birthday” ($35) and then rushed off to sell a ceramic beehive vase planted with hens and chickens for $10. Don’t know what to do with a ceramic pot missing its lid? Put a plant in it.

Located on the Petaluma River which flows directly into the San Francisco Bay, this

Nothing could compare to a beautiful day at an antiques fair, in a beautiful place like Petaluma, Calif. (Photo courtesy Petaluma Downtown Association)

historic town developed quickly at the end of the 19th century. It supplied the large cities of San Francisco and Oakland with meat, milk, produce, and eggs. That last commodity continues to this day. “Anything that is related to eggs sells like hot cakes at this Faire,” Lyon admitted. In fact, just the day before, Petaluma hosted its annual “Butter and Eggs Parade.”

The town itself is an antique, and a well preserved and respected one at that. It was spared the destruction San Francisco suffered during the 1906 earthquake; and today, more than 60 buildings in Petaluma are on the National List of Historic Buildings and Victoian-era homes dot the landscape of this quaint, but progressive community.

According to Jeff Mayne, president of the Petaluma Downtown Association, the group in charge of presenting the Faire, “We have a waiting list now. There are 179 vendors today and we were able to squeeze two more in to fill spaces left by last-minute cancellations.” Petaluma Antique Faire charges $140 for an 18′ x 20′ space. First-time exhibitors Monica Patenaud and Nancie Swanberg went out of their way to complement the Downtown Association. “People were here at five in the morning. They came by and helped us set up. There was free coffee and something to eat.” Nancie sold several 19th century books. “A dealer was buying them. And he came back three times to buy.” They also sold dolls, collectible ones and antique ones, too. “The traffic this morning was overwhelming!” Monica commented. She still hoped the inlaid desk she was selling for $900 would find a home.

Special consideration is given to antique dealers whose shops are located on Kentucky Street, the central location of the Faire. Far West Trading Company’s Lou Rosenberger is thrilled the Faire takes place every six months. “We place some items in our space out on the street (Chinese furniture, antiques, décor) and people flow right into the store.”

Also located on a corner space, Greg Heiden of Behind the Times Antiques offered some of the finest antiques at the Faire including unusual cubist-inspired, but un-named, Bavarian salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowl. He was asking $400 for the set and $300 for an excellent vintage Dresden plate-design quilt from the thirties.

**If you have an antiques fair, show, event you’d like to submit for feature consideration, please send us information about the event, and the features/benefits that make the event one of your favorites. Please send the information and your comments to, or call Antoinette (Toni) Rahn at 1-800-726-9966 x13364.