Published: July 15, 2003
It is a village in Connecticut. A patch of open land by a picturesque river of the same name. It is an event and it is a tradition.
Farmington Antiques Weekend happens twice each summer, in June and on Labor Day Weekend. It is work and play, shopping and history, a living museum and a party.
And the first “Farmington” for 2003 took place June 14-15 in spite of rain, chilly weather, mud, a new inexperienced rental tent supplier, and smoky barbecue pits. Hard work, tradition and great enthusiasm and effort from dealers and the promoters, Jenkins Family Management, made it all work.
It started inauspiciously. The Jenkinses arrived on Sunday evening, June 8, with a field of tall hay, not ready for any antiques show. First chore on Monday was mow the 30-some-acre site, rake it up, and mark the aisles and booths. But it was raining most every day so marks would not remain visible. Early in the week each tent had to be located with freshly made marks. Lost time and effort.
The tent supplier was new to the job and so, too, were most of his crew. By Friday morning there were many tents not erected and the sides especially important in rain were not even on site. But that is also when dealers are expecting to enter onto the field for set up. And it was raining, very heavily.
Steve Jenkins delayed entry onto the field at 9 am, giving the tent contractor more time to get around, but by 10 am dealers were getting stuck in a muddy staging area not meant to handle the vehicles, so rather than get backed up in mud, the dealers were let onto the show area for setup. The show field some years ago was reworked to allow it to drain, and as such it was a better place for the trucks, trailers and vans anyway.
By midafternoon the supplier found its tent sides but there was not enough labor to put them on, so dealers picked up their own tent sides from the truck and put them on themselves — dealers helping one another, all the Jenkins men, everyone pitching in.
By about 4:30 or 5 pm, the rain had stopped or let up and dealers began to “stress out,” also known as cocktail hour. It would be incorrect to say everything was okay by then, but certainly the show was coming together.
Saturday the program is usually a 7 am opening for 1,000 to 2,000 early buyers but this Saturday at 7 am it was raining again so the early buying did not amount to much. By 10 am, the rain had stopped, clouds were beginning to break and regular rate admission ($7) began. And the crowds came — so much so that by 11 parking was in the overflow lots. By 2 pm dealers had changed into shorts because it was a hot, beautiful day.
The offerings at Farmington this weekend are similar to indoor shows in winter. It is where dealers expect to sell valuable high-grade antiques and also furnishings for young people’s first houses. With more than 500 dealers, this short report cannot mention all the offerings but here are some examples.
At the first corner were Bill and Kay Puchstein offering early American country-style furniture. Their personal taste for antiques was developed in their home of Ohio but as they now spend most of the year in Florida, shopping there can add some other styles to their merchandise.
Jim and Betty Dunn, Springfield, Vt., can hardly be called part-time dealers, even though they each have full-time jobs. They set up at many shows and manage several in Vermont together with some friends. Their inventory is largely English porcelain including dishes and figurines. Cavern View Antiques, Howes Cave, N.Y., specializes in English ironstone.
A tag calling a piece a lowboy from Rhode Island priced it at $1,250. Dealer Daniel Romani said it was of mixed woods and the top may not have been original. David Bacon had a curious variation on the rocking horse…it was a steam engine that appeared to be from 1850-75 priced at only $250.
Nancy Hagen has homes in Dorset, Vt., and Florida but she shops mostly in England each spring. Her collection and merchandise is primarily Nineteenth Century dishes, kitchen accessories and textiles. Paisley Pineapple Antiques, Westfield, Mass., had a very elegant booth with home crafted early pine furniture and accessories.
From Hudson, N.Y., Glenbrook Antiques brought a double pedestal desk, Chippendale-style Sheraton library chair, circa 1840, and an enormous barn lantern.
Greenville, S.C., is currently home for Dave and Karen Metcalf, trading as Edgewood Antiques. This marked their first return to Farmington in many years, since they moved to the South from western New York. Dave had a mahogany desk, Sheraton-style with carved columns, for $1,850, and a schoolmaster’s desk, $1,800, among his offerings.
Ken and Jan Silveri have been doing business at antiques shows for more than 12 years. Their travels are usually not too far from their Hamburg, Penn., home, and that is the area they shop for antiques. Jan stayed home with son Guy while Ken brought a tall pantry cupboard in early tomato red paint and a wide variety of English transfer ware.
Canton, Conn., dealer Jo Anna Wacht-Delphus had a mixture of early country furniture such as a great pie safe, probably Pennsylvania, and folk art rdf_Descriptions including a child’s hobby horse.
Linens and textiles came in many forms. Lin’s Quilt Source, Bristol, Conn., is mostly quilts and coverlets. Keith and Denise Ryan, Tewksbury, Mass., had table linens, pillows and pillow covers. Canton, Tex., dealer Terry Roches had a wall layered with pillow tops, souvenirs from around the country and around the world, often brought back by sailors to their sweethearts. A Cape Cod dealer had a hooked rug approximately four feet by five feet that was based upon a nautical chart or map of Scraggie Neck, Falmouth, Mass.
Bud Hughes, New Market, N.H., offers a wide selection of early country furniture. He sold a hutch table early in the show. Bud also now manufactures tents for antiques dealers under the name I-Deal Tents, and guess who his customers are.
Sports paraphernalia has become a part of many of the better antiques shows. Diane and Doug McElwain of Goldsboro, N.C., featured a booth full of late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century gear. Just the ticket for the sports fan, with nearly all games of the USA and England included.
Les Diamond is from Madawaska, Maine, and he does shows in New England with a combination of real antiques and old collectibles. At Farmington he offered a trencher or chopping bowl for about $200. Made from a single block of maple, it is hand carved after the wood is allowed to dry for a year or two; it measures about two feet long and ten inches wide, and could still be used today.
Kathy and Tom Webb offer textiles, and also old advertising rdf_Descriptions: containers, usually metal, painted in the logo of the purveyor of the goods contained in them, coffee, spice, cookies, etc.
Art dealers at Farmington included Peter Winsom of Fairfield, Conn., and William and Heidi Sanders of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
The variety at Farmington is extremely broad. It is an antiques event with great variety and selection for the consumer, unlike many of the little shows where there are only a few dealers in each category.
The next Farmington Antiques Weekend will be August 30-31. Farmington is about 15 miles west of the I-84 and I-91 intersection in Hartford, or 100 miles from New York City. For the next show get your big SUV or rent a van and plan to stay overnight locally as all the chain motels are close by in Southington.
Customer and dealer information is available from Jenkins Family Management at 317-598-0012 or www.farmington-antiques.com.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm