Published: October 23, 2007
Like the fabled mouse that pulls the thorn from the lion’s paw, the meekest of the shows conducted during Antiques Week in Vermont, the Ludlow Antiques Show, proves its worth annually as it mightily rises to the occasion and transforms an average Friday autumn evening in this small ski-town into a blistering hot event on the show circuit. Collectors and dealers converge on this show, having just come off the mountain from the Okemo show, finding the perfect fix to satisfy their desired blend of merchandise
This show, hosted at the Ludlow High School on October 5 and 6, is filled with dealers that present a fresh and welcome look. Basically a tabletop event, the show is kept in check by the limitations of the facility; dealers are not allowed into the venue prior to the closing of school for the day. Walled booths are out of the question.
As the students leap for joy as they depart from the school grounds for the weekend, they are replaced with hordes of antiquers who can barely suppress their enthusiasm to enter the learning facility. At least one shopper was on hand more than two hours prior to opening and the line steadily built behind her, filling the lobby entranceway and extending out into the parking lot.
Despite the minimal amount of prep time allowed for the exhibitors to pull their booths together, the show develops quickly, and as it does an excitement permeates the air.
Some of the dealers bring their own backdrops, creating the feeling of a walled booth and thus distinguishing their merchandise from that of their neighbors. For the most part, however, this is a no-frills “set-it-up and sell-it” event. The crowd awaiting entry anticipates the Ludlow show, as it has the aura of a place where sleepers surface, and that is something that is routinely proven true.
At least one dealer/picker counts this as the only show that he exhibits at during the course of the year. Everyone knows exactly where their favorite dealers set up year after year, and the small booths quickly become packed with frenzied buyers moments after the opening.
The crowd awaiting entry gets teased somewhat as the 6 pm hour approaches. All of the dealers slowly migrate from the main room of the show leaving it eerily quiet. They have not gone far though, and the school cafeteria is where you will find them, as that is the spot that show managers Ann Firkey and Carol Barnaowski and their crew serve up a highly anticipated dinner for the exhibitors.
First-timers to Ludlow are pleasantly surprised by the quality of merchandise around the floor; it is diverse, yet as with the rest of the Antiques Week events, there is a strong country flavor.
The stage is a good place to start, with six Americana-oriented dealers occupying the space. Bonnie’s Antiques, Elmira, N.Y., displayed a couple of nice paint decorated blanket boxes with country smalls on top and a backdrop of colorful quilts forming the rear wall of the booth. One six-board blanket box in an old gray paint had three red panels occupying the front, each outlined in an appealing yellow paint.
As her shop name might suggest, The Quilt Lady, Delmar, N.Y., was another of the dealers on the floor to offer brightly colored quilts and bed covers. Shoppers could not help but notice a clean and crisp Pennsylvania quilt hanging on the rear wall of the booth decorated with bright red tulips amid green designs. In clear view of those waiting to get into the show, it sold within moments of opening.
Marcellus, N.Y., dealer Doug Blanchard, reportedly a part-time picker and realtor, always comes to the show with a great selection of merchandise. Set up in a hallway extending out of the gymnasium, the dealer is the only vendor who is not set up in the main room or on the stage.
The crowd, resembling heat seeking missiles, streams toward the tight confines where Blanchard sets his wares out and buyers are soon three and four deep attempting to score something from his tables filled with goodies. Redware, stoneware, cast iron banks, early glass, chalkware, pewter and burl bowls were moving quickly during the first half hour of the show, with the dealer barely able to keep up as he wrote sales slip after sales slip. Writing, quoting prices and cutting deals, Blanchard just smiled and continued with the transaction at hand when asked at 8 pm how the show had gone.
Maine dealer Lee Pirkey was also busy with several buyers crammed into her booth. A large eight-foot farm table with grain painted base and scrubbed top was getting looks from collectors, as was a blue painted wooden box with a slant lid and a tall country stool in old yellow paint.
A nice washstand in a vibrant yellow paint with strong green and red floral decoration was offered by Celine Blais Antiques, Montpelier, Vt. A reasonably priced Massachusetts redware jar in a creamy colored glaze with red striations was under the stand, and alongside of it was a large wooden bowl with monumental advertising props in the form of Wrigley’s gum packs.
Springfield, Ill., dealers Dan and Kathy Roe were on hand at the show with an eclectic mix of merchandise that ranged from an Arts and Crafts-style lantern to two carved stone figures, one a folky stylized figure that possessed a Modernist form, the other a spooky naked figure with flaring hair.
While the “finds” keep the crowd moving at a quick pace, Ludlow is also a place to slow down once shoppers are finished scouring the booths. Show managers Firkey and Barnaowski put on some of the finest chow available throughout the region and their tasty fare of finger-food, provided with the preview’s admission, has become extremely popular for those that are weary after shopping the third and final show of the day.
There is good reason that the Ludlow show is extremely popular with Vermont Antiques Week shoppers.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm