Dealers say sales are up at California’s 48th annual San Juan Bautista Antique & Collectibles Faire

California Antiques Shows & Flea Markets


SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif., – Two blocks from the state’s last-surviving Spanish-era Central Plaza, the San Juan Bautista Rotary Club took on the challenge of presenting the 48th Annual Antiques & Collectibles Faire, Aug. 14, 2011. These volunteers were up before dawn marking off Third Street and checking in 70 different vendors.

The profits from space rentals will go toward high school leadership programs and an international exchange of scientists and park managers involved in re-establishing the California and Andean condor in its natural range. Becasue of this work, Pinnacles National Monument, located in the Gabilan Mountains south of the city, once again has a small population of America’s largest and most endangered bird.

Vendors agreed this year’s sales were better than the last two. Many shoppers came looking for a treasure and walked away satisfied. With true vision, the Rotarians have their eyes on further enhancing the quality of the event toward its 50th year.

“We charged $125 for the booths,” said artist Gayle Sleznick, a volunteer in the Rotary Club’s booth, “but as an incentive, instead of a 10-foot by 10-foot stall we gave them 10-foot by 20-foot stall. That way they could spread their stuff out. It’s better for the customers as well.”

Among vendor Richard Poncé’s recycled items were garden wagons reconstructed with aged lumber and the iron wheels from old apricot drying carts, priced at $285, and metal wine barrel bands deftly bent into hearts priced for $25. “It’s not as easy as it looks because you only get one good chance to make a heart,” he said.

California pottery

Valerie Kemp sold her John Deere walking plow which fetched $85. “It was a great price for me ‘cuz I got it for free,” she said. Back in the 1830s, John Deere adapted a bent saw mill blade to invent a plow that passed through sticky soil. These walking plows were made by the company from 1867 to the 1940s.

Local businesses benefited from the boost in traffic, too, such as Halina Kleinsmith who has been involved with the Faire for 15 years runs one of a dozen permanent shops in town. She specializes in jewelry, 20th century memorabilia and a huge collection of vinyl LPs.

The Faire had its share of non-profit booths such as the old-fashioned lemonade stand run by Elks Lodge member Roy Lompa. “I pick the lemons from my trees, give them a quick bath in a weak Clorox solution, rinse them well and let them sit for a week. That brings the juice out of the rind,” he said. A line of people waited for refreshment during the first day of the fair and Lompa’s grandchildren were there quickly serving customers. There was no fooling around in Grampa’s booth!

The local library had a stall selling donated collectibles and so did the Boy Scouts. But the vendors ruled the day. The Vertigo Coffee Company had one of its busiest days. Yes, Alfred Hitchcock’s film of the same name starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, was partially filmed in this historic town and all items related to this movie masterpiece are always good sellers here.

“All prices are negotiable . . . whether you like it or not,” one proprietor shouted to a passerby. There were many well established dealers who travel from show to show with items they know will sell, like a polished copper wash tub with a lid, priced at $85, a stack of cattle skulls priced at $40 each.

One vender offered a 40-inch, hand-carved statue depicting St. Francis, priced at $200. St. Francis plays an important part in the history of the region. A member of his order, Father Fermin de Lausen, founded the San Juan Bautista Mission in 1797, which has been in continuous operation ever since.

Members hope that by doubling the stall space to help vendors offer more inventory for lower costs, the Antiques and Collectibles Faire will survive a few hundred years, too.

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