Published: July 30, 2007
It is an event that only takes place one Saturday †every other year †yet it has earned a reputation among the dealers that exhibit there and the faithful crowd of buyers that are always in attendance as one of the best one-day flea markets around. With its unique flavor and setting, the Dorset Antiques Festival once again pleased the masses on July 14.
With dealers exhibiting their wares on the quaint village green and on the front lawns of the historic homes that line the street, this fair is both visually pleasurable and stimulating to the senses. Nestled among the mountainous backdrop, the market is among the most attractive of the one-day shows in the country.
A small hamlet where Vermont’s independence was first declared, Dorset is far enough off the beaten path to have retained its small town charms, yet close enough to the bustling hubs of activity, such as Manchester Center, to keep it upscale and healthy. As the white tents popped up alongside the white marble sidewalks stretching in front of the celebrated homes painted white, the antiques on display, primarily Americana, become even more alluring.
Dorset is especially beautiful under a cloudless sky and with temperatures hovering in the mid-70s. A rare event for mid-July, but that was the case for the most recent market †unlike the show two years ago that was visited by an endless stream of thunderheads and steady rains throughout the day. “We really lucked out this year,” stated show manager Linda Turner, noting that forecasts earlier in the week had called for rain, which fortunately arrived a day late.
As the dealers began to roll onto the street at 7 am, a watchful crowd peered from porch of The Dorset Inn at the head of the street and The Dovetail Inn, situated directly across the street from the market. Both are beloved haunts for market shoppers who traditionally come to Dorset early and leave late. The General Store at the head of the green is a favorite spot for coffee for those waiting in line for the early buying session that opens to the public at 8 am.
A crowd began to form almost an hour prior to opening and as is tradition at this show, many of the exhibitors were still in the process of getting their booths together as the show began. Some felt the crowd was down somewhat from previous events, others countered stating, “There were as many people there at 3 pm as there were at 10 am. And, they were interested in the merchandise and were buying throughout the day.”
“We sold things to the same people late in the afternoon that we had sold things to early in the morning,” observed Stephen Corrigan of Stephen-Douglas Antiques. The Rockingham Vt., dealers †Douglas Jackman is the Douglas half of the team †which occupy the first booth at the head of the street, have been doing the show for almost as long as it has been taking place †now in its 46th year. Corrigan commented that he could remember his parents bringing him to the show to exhibit prior to his graduation from college in the late 60s.
The dealer recalled a sale from his early years on the field, a bucket bench/cupboard in a vibrant blue paint that he bought for $250 the week prior to the show and sold for $400 while set up down the street from his current booth. And while the faces have changed over the years, said Corrigan, the merchandise and atmosphere remains much the same.
The dealers reported selling a wide variety of items ranging from a tavern table to still banks. The list of items sold also included a sponge decorated dome-top box that went to a West Coast collector, numerous pieces of burl and treen, mocha, a pair of watercolor portraits and a paint decorated gaming wheel.
John and Jan Maggs reported Dorset as a “great success. It was a special pleasure to chat with knowledgeable buyers and see fine antiques offered for sale. We wish that there were more one-day shows like Dorset, offering antiques of quality.”
Sales continued throughout not only the day, but in the days afterwards as Turner fielded seven phone calls in the first three days following the show from shoppers seeking dealers’ phone numbers so as to “call about items they had not bought and were hoping were still available,” said Turner. “So far one reported success in finding ‘the woman on the right down from the inn&bout 50ish&⁷ith some ceramics&”‘ she said.
Mike Winslow was another to report a good show. A diverse assortment of merchandise ranging from Americana to quirky Continental was offered from his booth, including a monumental set of colorful child’s “ABC” blocks that had been used to spell “Toys.” Winslow, a Clarendon Springs, Vt., dealer, commented that he has been living in Italy for the past 15 years and that this was the first show he participated in since his return.
David and Bonnie Ferriss, Cambridge, N.Y., offered a large selection of architectural material, including a nice section of fencing and a trellis entryway. An eye-catching early hammered copper kitchen sink with a wooden countertop was attracting attention, as were a selection of signs, including the letters “P, I, E, S.” The dealers were anxious to return to their shop, Antiques at 30B, where they will be hosting a second year anniversary in August.
Pembroke, N.H., dealer Tommy Thompson was busy selling throughout the day and among the items capturing attention was a sign that proclaimed “This Farm For Sale.” While Thompson did not sell the farm, at least yet, he did sell quite a few things, including an early and unique wooden folding ironing board in old paint that surely served as the model for the modern versions. A nice assortment of mocha, yellowware and other country smalls were also attracting interest.
An Empire chest in wonderful “Maine” paint was getting looks in the booth of Limington, Maine, dealer Bill Kelly’s booth. Numerous pieces of grain painted furniture were offered by the dealer, along with a good selection of accessories, including slip plates and a nice handled cider jar with a strong parrot’s-eye “Gonic” glaze.
Making a trip to Dorset from the Midwest, Milan, Ohio, dealer Bill Samaha was on hand with a nice assortment of country furniture and accessories. Highlighting the offering was a Sheraton dressing stand in strong tiger maple. Superbly decorated tole filled his showcase and two folky portraits hung in the rear of the stand.
One of the items that flew from the field early was a wooden goose weathervane that sported a sold tag around its neck as soon as the show opened. Displayed in the booth of Lynne Weaver, Wenham, Mass., the vane continued to attract attention as the new owner left it in place for several hours while continuing to shop the field.
Dan and Karen Olson, Newburgh, N.Y., were set up at the show, although Dan was doing all the work as Karen was out of town on a family vacation. Seeming winded and distracted by customers, Dan commented that by the time he got everything unloaded and set up, it would be time to start packing.
“I have gotten some really good feedback from the show,” stated Turner, as she rattled off a list of dealers that had reported good shows including, “Nancy Hagen, Barbara Adams, Joe Moffitt, Quelle Surprise, Indian Pipe Antiques, Mad River, Boyntons, The Chrins, Anita Holden, Fulton and Moser, and Rick Russack.”
The Dorset Antiques Festival is a benefit for the Dorset Library and according to management it will return to the front lawns of the homes along the Dorset Green in 2009. Nipping rumors to the contrary in the bud, Turner commented, “The chairman assures me there will be a show in ’09.”
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm