Published: September 16, 2003
The Maine Antiques Festival, August 8-10, is a recurring treat for antiques dealers and shoppers on the Union Fairgrounds. Produced by Paul Davis’s Coastal Promotions for the 22nd consecutive year, it featured over 350 exhibiting dealers setting up shop on Friday with early buyers, and continuing throughout the weekend.
Davis, in a post show interview, said the visitor count on Saturday set a new record high. People come to the shows as a source for antiques with an attitude. If you cannot find early Americana here, you cannot find it anywhere for even though it is not the biggest of all the outdoor shows, it has very high quality and selection. It is also just plain fun.
Union is only about 20 minutes from the seacoast towns of Camden, Rockport and Rockland to the east, Waldoboro and Damariscotta to the south, all prime summer home and vacation destinations. It is an area far enough removed from the major Eastern cities to attract those who can afford to get away from it all.
The Maine Antiques Fair, better known simply as “Union,” becomes a purpose or focus for the weekend, week or vacation. It draws so many visitors (thousands) that the area hotels, motels, cabins and campsites all fill up to the point that many dealers have to move inland to Augusta for accommodations.
The event began on Friday morning with antiques dealers driving onto the fields and near the buildings. Unloading into buildings was allowed but only if the precious cargo remained hidden from view. Outside dealers erected tents and set out props all waiting for the official announcement of 2 pm. At that, inside dealers uncovered and unboxed their wares, trunks and trailers emptied and tents filled with saleable goods and the action began.
Harry Hepburn is from Harrison, Maine. He does a good deal of work on clocks and at various shows, mostly in New England, has a few special early timepieces to sell. At this past Union it was a tall-case clock, aka grandfather clock, American case, which he sold. Charlie Thorp, Windham, Conn., had a large collection of whale oil and kerosene lamps, mostly from Sandwich, Mass.
Minnesota transplants Judi and Cy Stellmach, now living in Connecticut, favor early milk-painted furniture. One rdf_Description was a tall cupboard that appeared to have had an early oil paint scraped off to show its first coat, a deep rich blue milk paint. Their friend Marion Atten, trading as Antiques at Hillwood Farm, from Pecatonica, Ill., had a very early rope seated settee, upholstered and ready to use. While Mainers typically bring out stuff from the back woods, these dealers had merchandise that would fit into the same décor; Country Home’s Mary Emmerling would be proud.
Kathy Consentino is from Timber River, New Brunswick, Canada. It is so small a town it is not even included in the Rand McNally Atlas but she brought a large collection of oil or painted softwood furniture, textiles in the forms of hooked rugs and mats, crewel seat covers, painted pantry boxes and more.
Glen Rice was a newcomer to the festival. Now living in Higganum, Conn., he and his wife moved earlier this year from California and got right into the program with stoneware, early tin and woodenware. The term woodenware is most frequently meant to describe wooden vessels, bowls, buckets, hand tools, even some machine made objects such as lathe-turned plates, cups and tumblers, but not furniture. And the Rice’s had a lot of that stuff.
Jane and Ed Care, Gorham, Maine, were there too, in their usual space with a charming kitchen set, table and chairs in pine and maple. Louis Hardy, Weston, Mass., filled her little store with small antiques and art in period frames. Elizabeth and Jim Dunn, Springfield, Mass., had their collection of Staffordshire figurines on display. Glimmer Glass, Schenevus, N.Y., filled their booth with just that, glimmering glass.
Marc Witus has, as he says, “varied tastes in antiques” and a wealth of knowledge in countless areas. One showcase was almost all miniature portraits, sometimes called vest pocket portraits from the early Nineteenth Century and before. In another part of his booth he displayed Mission furniture.
Some dealers have been there all 22 years, including Patricia Ann Breame, from Woodstock, Maine. Others were first year exhibitors, such as Lorraine and Steven German, North Granby, Conn.
Union is fun, work, play, good food and some level of income for dealers or a place to buy new parts to their collection. It is a great way to enjoy the Maine summer, at the shore or field during the day, nights without air conditioning and most of all good friends, new ones and old ones.
Call 207-563-1013 or visit www.maineantiquefest.com for information. Next year’s show will be August 13-15.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm