Published: March 2, 2004
For the second consecutive show, Heart of Country founders Dick and Libby Kramer were not on the floor for their signature event due to health problems. But, thanks to a crew of extended family members and will undoubtedly fly again soon in the East. Friday had big enthusiastic crowds, and one dealer remarked that many collectors were returning to pick up things they had spotted the night before. headed by daughters Marianne and Susan, the party started right on time with a huge crush of opening-night buyers at the Valentine preview on February 5.
Outsider art, Native American material, garden ornaments and architectural rdf_Descriptions have made an appearance on the floor, but the emphasis after 23 energetic years is still on the furniture, accessories, folk art and classic country Americana. The 220-plus exhibitors show it and they sell it.
On Friday morning, Newburgh, N.Y., dealer Daniel Olson said, “We had 13 sales last night including furniture and folk, and we sold more furniture today.” In fact, a handsome carved eagle from New York state sold to a major folk art dealer
Another eagle took wing from the display of Pat and Rich Garthoeffner of Lititz, Penn. This has always been an excellent show for the couple, so Rich Garthoeffner expanded, “I sold a great American eagle with a big wide wingspan, which came out of a camp in Maine. It had a lot of personality. I could have sold it three times. I also sold these shelves, sampler, basket, two chests, toys and hooked rugs. We’ve sold all across the board – smalls, furniture, textiles. One of the chests was a nice early 1780s-1790s red-painted blanket chest, and the other was a decorated Pennsylvania chest. We moved things around in the booth several times because we rearrange it after we sell.”
Ask Chuck White of Mercer, Penn., “Are you happy?” and he answers, “Oh my, yes. I sold a lot of stuff last night, and I rearranged the whole booth this morning. And I had a pretty good setup, too. You get a little cranky when you’re loading up and you think, why am I going all the way down there? But it always works. I always have fun.”
While many dealers try to stay more or less in the same spots, the Opryland Hotel Convention Center is tricky, so this year’s show had very wide rows that seemed to extend miles from the center. Woodbury, Conn., dealer Harold Cole is always up front by the main door, but Michigan’s Ragman, with his cases of tiny fascinating objects, prefers his lower right corner regular space, and Mark Morris of Dayton, Ohio, admits, “It’s my choice – I love the corner. This has been an unbelievable show. We sold cupboards and game boards and architectural panels. I bring what I love.”
Within the folk art realm, everyone seems to love animals. In addition to the eagles mentioned above, there was a great pair of Fiske cast-iron lions at Chuck White’s priced at $9,800. Bruce and Kathy Shelton of Nashville had sold five canes with horse motifs to a lady from Virginia and Don Orwig’s mechanical store display dog for $1,800 rolled its eyes and talked. Scott Estepp of Cincinnati saw no incongruity in placing his pair of penguins, $2,400, next to a stalking panther, $2,800.
Cindy Blackburn was helping out Jeff and Emily Walton of Jenera, Ohio, while Emily was back home running for office. She had not been to the show for a few years and noted, “The customers come from everywhere. I think this show has got such a name and the magazines – Country Home and Country Living – do stories all year long about things they saw. So I’ve noticed for the last five years.
DebraElizabeth Schaffer, Wiscasset, Maine, summed it up: “I sold the big chair, a sampler, needlework, a table and bench last night. And today’s been better than last night. This is my 23rd show – I’m one shy of the first show. Where can you shop and find so many dealers concentrated in one spot – ever, anyplace?”
The next Heart of Country will be Wednesday, October 27. More information at www.heartofcountry.com or 800-862-1090.
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