If you have never been to the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, then you should do so. It is a place where the history of the Adirondacks unfolds with displays of boats, furnishings, pack baskets, fishing and hunting gear, and even the real train that once brought the wealthy away from city life to the wonderful camps that lined many of the lakes. And if you have never been to an antiques show where you can buy most anything “rustic” †from a life-size moose to a small fishing lure †then you should do that also.
Granted, not everyone is into “rustic.” But if you have even the slightest leaning toward this area of collecting, then you should have been at Blue Mountain Lake over the September 20′1 weekend for the Adirondack Museum Antiques Show. It opened with a preview on Friday afternoon at 2 pm, with wine and beer to wash down a tasty selection of finger foods. According to the museum staff, about 150 people came to this event out of the 165 tickets that were sold. Advertised as a three-hour preview, people did not leave promptly at 5 pm, but wandered about until the dealers set up in small tents outside the main exhibition area began lowering their flaps.
“The large ground-level parking lot is full, the first floor of the parking garage is full, and we are working on the second level before we direct cars across the street to our off-site lot,” one of the museum volunteers, who was directing traffic, said Saturday morning. That was shortly after 10 am; the show had been open for only about ten minutes, and people were roaming the grounds of the museum, peering into tents and making their way through the large tent that housed 14 of the exhibitors.
For a bit of background, an antiques show on the grounds of the Adirondack Museum began life in 1991, where it ran under the direction of Oliver and Gannon until 2003. After that, Indian Lake, a short 11 miles east on Route 28, decided to take on the show and made room for it at Byron Park, a location right on the lake itself.
Fast forward to 2008, five years later, and the museum decided to promote another show and create an antiques weekend in conjunction with Indian Lake. The new Adirondack Museum Antiques Show would be smaller in size, only 45 exhibitors, and an effort would be made to have the 1950s as the cut-off date for all material. Rod Lich of Georgetown, Ind., was named manager, and the show was off and running. Many of the Indian Lake dealers, who at one time had been the backbone of the show when it was at the museum, elected to return to their old stomping grounds, and did so. The Indian Lake show took a hit, folded its tent for one year, and, last heard, a show is in the making for 2009. This year, in addition to the dealers who set up along the road in Indian Lake, a handful of dealers pitched tents on the front grounds of the school. Together this made for a “worth-stopping-for road show,” and people were doing just that from early in the week until it was all over Sunday evening.
Vonnie Liddle, who headed the show while it was in Indian Lake, is hoping to get about 30 dealers signed up for 2009 at Byron Park. “We are looking for both antiques dealers and artisans to take part and in conjunction with the show at the museum, we can have a real antiques show weekend,” Vonnie said. She added that “with the dealers we had on the school grounds, and those who set up along the road, we had about 40 booths and a good deal of activity. Next year we hope to do much better.” (Those interested in exhibiting at Byron Park, Indian Lake, next September can call Vonnie at 518-648-5828).
Rod Lich, who runs shows in Indiana and Kentucky, exhibited at some of the early shows at the museum and was tapped to be manager. “We are looking at this as a new show, not a continuation of the old one, and we are keeping it smaller with a goal of quality over quantity,” Rod said. He indicated he wanted to add only a few more exhibitors, possibly going from the 41 now in the show to not over 50. “We are looking for several more, we hope to upgrade a few of the dealers we had this year, and are striving for a first-class Adirondack show,” he said.
As far as this past show is concerned, “All went well, the weather was great save for a light drizzle on Sunday, and every dealer seemed happy even if sales fell a bit short of what was expected,” Rod said. He reported that Linda Davidson Antiques, Ross Brothers, Magoun Brothers and Bearwallow Mountain Traders, all veterans of the previous shows on the museum grounds, were among those who indicated this was the best show ever in the Adirondacks.
Jeff Cherry of Cherry Gallery, Damariscotta, Maine, said the show was “very good for us and we feel the show is back to what it used to be when at the Adirondack Museum.” He sold across the board, including paintings, two sets of Old Hickory chairs, other furniture, many paddles and accessories. “We saw people who did not come to Indian Lake, but returned this year because the show was at the museum,” he said. He added, “We are very positive about the show and know Rod and the museum will keep building it in the right direction.”
It was four days after the show closed before Linda Davidson returned to her home in Landrum, S.C., very happy after having a “fabulous” show in the Adirondacks. “We took time to do some hiking and enjoy the mountains,” she said, adding, “We drove home with a very light load. It was close to a sell-out for us.” Linda indicated that business got off to a good start at the preview, with lighting, hickory furniture and all manner of smalls selling, and the weekend was much of the same. “It is so good to be back at the museum; it is such a welcoming place and everyone seems to be so comfortable there,” she said.
An effort made by the show committee and manager to keep the show as “pure Adirondack” as possible brought out many interesting objects. A view of Lake George, an oil on canvas in the original ornate frame, was bright with fall colors, and a rare Penobscot Indian armchair attracted lots of attention, but was decked out with a large red Sold tag. A dealer who bought an early model of a circa 1860s iceboat had many chances to resell it, but decided to add it to his own collection.
Moose and deer mounts, as well as fish mounts, were displayed about the grounds, and there was no shortage of vintage paddles, both those ready to be used and those made as samples or souvenirs. A tagged William Vassar guide boat, circa 1890, was among the many boats and canoes for sale, and this show was the place to find the right piece of Old Hickory furniture. Fishing lures and badges, pack baskets and creels, twig furniture, guns and early photographs, many showing a day’s catch or a hunting trophy, were numerous.
Susan Carroll Dineen, director of marketing for the Adirondack Museum, speaking for the museum, said, “We were very pleased with the show; the gate was fine on Saturday, but off from what we expected on Sunday.” Over the three-day period just under 2,000 people attended the show. “We will be meeting next week with the Indian Lake committee and begin working on the Adirondack Weekend for next year,” she said. The 2009 shows are set for September 19′0.
Heading the list of shows on the Rod Lich schedule for 2009 is the Kappa Alpha Theta Antiques Show in Bloomington, Ind., February 21′2. For more information about his schedule of shows, or the Adirondack Museum Antiques Show, 812-951-3454 or www.parrettlich.com .