Published: December 9, 2003
With blizzard condition forecast for this part of the country, Marilyn Gould started receiving calls on Friday concerning the plans for the Wilton Holiday Show scheduled for Sunday, December 7. One call came from a California collector who had flown east for the show and was, at the time, in Philadelphia, as his flight had not been able to land in New York. “What was the best way to get to Wilton by train?” he had asked. Unfortunately, the answer was “don’t come, the show has been cancelled.”
“We had a 1 pm meeting with school personnel, including custodians, in the cafeteria at the Wilton Field House Friday to consider all questions and problems the snow would present to the operation of the antiques show,” Marilyn Gould, show manager, said. “Of course, I was in favor of having the show regardless of snow conditions, as we had faced them before, but the school dug in its heels and would not let us have the facility,” she continued.
The main stumbling block was the parking lot and being able to keep it clean and ready for the opening of school on Monday. Two events were scheduled for this past weekend at the school, a concert on Saturday night and the antiques show on Sunday. Since both events shared the same parking lots, the school people felt it would be impossible to keep the place clear as there would always be cars in the way. Marilyn Gould offered a solution to this concern, promising to work all Friday night bringing the dealers in and thus causing less congestion on Saturday, the scheduled move-in day. The school people did not buy it.
“We went through the blizzard of 93 when we had 30 inches of snow, and we also had six inches of snow last year on set-up day, and it all worked out,” Marilyn said. Many of the people involved in the operation of the show, such as walls, electricity, food, etc., attended the meeting and the actual set-up of the show had not begun before the decision was made at 4:30 pm to cancel the show. “At one point we even had the football coach involved in trying to keep the show going as it is a benefit for the John G. Corr Memorial Award Fund and the money we raise for the show is necessary in order the make the annual presentation,” she said.
“It is difficult enough to run a good antiques show, but it is really twice as hard to cancel one,” Marilyn said. Calls were made to four of the area hotels where dealers were staying, including the Marriott that had 26 exhibitors registered, while most of the 130 dealers were called directly at either their shop or residence. About 30 radio stations received a fax message and by 11 pm Friday most everyone had been contacted. Some of the exhibitors, including Jane Wargo and Judy Milne, called other dealers to spread the news. A good number of the dealers, including Charles Wilson, in turn notified their clients who had planned to come to the show. In total, about 800 calls were made and received in Wilton over the weekend, “and we had another 50 waiting for us when we opened the historical society on Monday morning,” Marilyn said.
“We covered our bases pretty well in a short length of time,” Marilyn said, and only two exhibitors, R.E. Vandall from New Hampshire and Jim Hirsheimer from Pennsylvania, appeared at the field house to set-up. Michael Gould spent part of his time on both Saturday and Sunday setting up signs to announce the cancellation of the show and to inform any visitors who arrived to attend the show. “Some people had not heard and did show up on Sunday,” he said.
“The financial loss is considerable, somewhere around $40-45,000,” Marilyn Gould said. That number will increase, however, as she has decided to credit each dealer with 50 percent of the show deposit. Antiques and The Arts Weekly will also be extending a credit to those exhibitors who took part in the Special Show Sections that appeared in the paper a week before and the week of the show.
Based on inquires and phone calls prior to the show, Marilyn said “there was an overall feeling that this was going to be a good show as both the general public and the dealers were up-beat and really looking forward to the show.” Over the weekend, “we had lots of encouraging messages from some of the exhibitors and customers, including suggestions to run the show a week later or to have it between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” Marilyn said, “but such re-scheduling is really out of the question.” The next show in Wilton will be the 37th annual benefit for the Wilton Historical Society on March 20-21.
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