Published: May 1, 2012
“We hit one out of the park,” said Norm Schaut on the Monday after his show, Antique City Fun Fair, closed. The show drew large crowds during its run on the April 14‱5 weekend at Lehigh University’s Rauch Fieldhouse, possibly setting a building attendance record for any event held in the venue’s 30-plus-year history.
When conceiving of this show a year ago, after years of running a popular antiques show in Atlantic City, veteran show promoter Schaut had one mission: to put the fun back in antiques shows. Mission accomplished.
Buyers were lined up around the building for early buying Saturday morning and again, two hours later, for the regular opening of the show. Despite the wide aisles, at times the sea of people was so thick on the show floor, it was hard to move around. It is a manageable problem, though, that most show promoters do not mind having to deal with.
The size of the crowd was a bit unexpected, and the food truck (cleverly named Fud Truk on its side panels) ran out of food and drinks by midday but was restocked for Sunday’s session. Rest assured, its larder will be chockfull for next year’s show.
True to its name, the show focused on “fun” antiques. Dolls, toys, pressed steel toy cars, early advertising, holiday collectibles and country store goods were liberally sprinkled throughout the show, making a walk down a show aisle seem like a memory lane stroll through one’s childhood.
“It was huge †a grand slam. The purpose of this was to bring back the fun in antiques shows for the average collector, and we succeeded incredibly,” Schaut said, lamenting the impersonal feel of Internet antiquing. With more than 500 antiques dealers all under one roof here, serving as educators for the average collector, the show had something for everyone, from experienced collector to new antiquer, as well as offering a wealth of expertise newbies could tap into.
Buyers came and dealers seemed to be selling well, as evidenced by a strong reregistration. About two-thirds of the dealers exhibiting here signed up for next spring’s show before pack-out Sunday. The show will be back here April 13‱4, 2013.
While the show was heavy on fun, Schaut said that this was a diverse show. “We never had a better balance.” The show had plenty of the “fun stuff,” namely, toys, dolls, advertising, country store and holidays, but it also featured serious antiques, such as furniture, porcelain, china, pottery and glass.
The balance in offerings here is probably best seen in this comparison. Serious Toyz, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., featured lunchboxes from such classic television shows as Julia and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , a Flintstones game, as well as a neat battery-operated, remote control Frankenstein, while Tex Johnson & Son, Adamstown, Penn., offered a lovely collection of butter stamps, including an especially pleasing lollipop butter stamp with an unusual shape and pinwheel design, an oval example with pinwheels and a heart, and a two-sided, double tulip design with a star print on the back.
Or compare Raccoon Creek Antiques, Oley, Penn., which featured a Hepplewhite Pennsylvania jelly cupboard in original paint and a hooked rug made from burlap and fabric strips with a vine and folky tulip motif to the booth of M-M Int. Inc, Plantation, Fla., which offered a variety of vehicle toys, such as a model Buckeye “Fire Bird” speed boat that had appreciated in value about 100 times over its original price tag of $4.95, offered with original box.
Among the dealers reporting a strong showing here was Red Barn Antiques, South Egremont, Mass., which had done Fun Fair when it was at the Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Penn., last spring and did okay then, but this year the dealers were very pleased with their sales of restored antique lighting, attributing much of their success to the show’s new venue. Selling well were chandeliers and ceiling/wall fixtures from 1850 to 1930.
Jim Morrison runs the National Christmas Center in Paradise, Penn., and also sells Christmas-related items, trains and antique postcards. He described Fun Fair with such superlatives as “incredible” and “very positive,” noting that he believed the show was the right size and had the right number of people. His best sale of the weekend was a 2-foot-tall store display Santa mask made of plaster, painted and in wonderful shape.
Schaut noted the show’s gate helped raise funds for a new pediatric wing at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation in Allentown, Penn., and The Sanctuary at Haafsville in Breinigsville, Penn., for animals.
For more information, www.antiquecityshow.com or 609-399-2595.
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