By R. Scudder Smith
WOODBURY, CONN. — When the rains finally moved away from , June 14-15, and the puddles showed signs of drying up, all that remained as a reminder of the foul weather was Davy Jones’ locker that had settled right in the middle of Wayne Pratt’s booth. Actually, at one point on Friday during dealer move-in, it seemed that this might really happen as the rains increased in intensity, the mud became deeper, and the large, flat meadow at Three Rivers Park was closed to all in-coming traffic.
“Things just seemed to get worse by the minute,” Frank Gaglio, owner and manager of Barn Star Productions said on Friday. The condition of the field caused him to shut down dealer setup about midafternoon on Friday, with those who were late arriving scheduled to unpack as early as 5 am on Saturday.
“Not only could we not get trucks and vans onto the field, we could not take the chance of getting those already on the field off to get back to motels, other lodging, and restaurants,” he said. To remedy this situation management hired school buses that left late Friday afternoon to take dealers to their respective lodgings, and those same buses were available again Saturday morning to bring the exhibitors back.
Ron and Joyce Bassin of A Bird In Hand Antiques were among the last to move onto the field on Friday. While in the process of assembling their exhibition tent, Ron mentioned, “Conditions here sure have been tough, but Frank has remained calm through it all and has done everything humanly possible to help the dealers and make sure the show goes on.”
Exhibitor Newton McFar-land also had praise for the management, saying, “We are real happy with Frank. There is not much that can be done in such weather conditions, but all that could be done Frank has seen to it.”
The tall grass on the exhibition field and the adjacent parking area was mowed and bailed on Monday, the week of the show, and conditions were just fine for an antiques show. “The ground soaked up most of the rain,” Frank said, “but the paths the vehicles made became soon became mud and puddles and we had to buy a couple of truck loads of hay to spread about.” He added how ironic it was to have had the field mowed on Monday and on Friday to buy back the same hay to spread over the wet spots.
Frank and his crew were back on the field at 5 am Saturday, guiding more dealers into place and checking out conditions. By exact count, 18 dealers came onto the field Saturday morning and were ready to go by the time early buying began at 8:15.
Wayne Pratt, co-chairman of the event that benefited The Glebe House Museum and The Gertrude Jeykll Garden, moved onto the field Saturday morning due to conditions the day before. His large truck became stuck and an effort was made to pull it out of the mud by a small pickup and chain. In the process, the chain snapped, recoiled and smashed out the truck window, fortunately not hurting the driver. Pratt was still set up in time, offering several case pieces of American furniture and a selection of small rdf_Descriptions.
Not only was management helping out where needed, but dealers were assisting other dealers in a number of situations. In one case, in an effort to free a vehicle from the mud, a dealer slipped a board under the back tire of a van and then lent a hand pushing. The driver gunned the van and the board shot out, hitting the pusher in the leg. An ambulance was called and fortunately the leg was not broken. Prior to the arrival of the ambulance the person hurt was assisted to by Cynthia Saniewski, a member of the Barn Star team and an EMT in her own right.
The show was not a washout for a good number of the dealers who reported active business. As with any show, however, selling success was spotty. One dealer commented, “We were very happy and went home with over $10,000 in sales.” Another, not as fortunate, said, “I had only four very small sales and left with less than $300, far under my investment in the show.” Frank Gaglio indicated that as of the close of the show on Sunday, every exhibitor had indicated an interest in next year’s event.
So just what is in store for next year? “I am calling this year a success, despite the weather, and am looking forward to another show here next year,” Frank said. In addition to looking for better weather conditions, he hopes to find a date that does not conflict with Farmington or Father’s Day, and is not as close to Marilyn Gould’s Outdoor Wilton Marketplace. This year only one week separated the two events, causing some dealers to pick one over the other rather than do two outdoor shows in as many weekends. “We have seen the field at its worst, so things only have to be better next year,” Frank said.
Several changes are being considered for next year, including the removal of dealer’s vehicles from the field during show hours. “It will make the show look lots better and, if the sun is strong, it will reduce the heat factor on the field,” Frank said. He also plans to have booth signs made and hopes to raise the number of exhibitors. “The potential is definitely there and with the weather this year we had 158 early buyers and just over 2,500 visitors during the weekend,” he said.
Four rows of uniform tents were provided by management, each capable of holding five exhibitors. In addition, dealers were able to rent space and set up their own tents. Plans for 2004 call for a longer list of exhibitors and prayers for good weather.
In the meantime, Barn Star Productions is staying very busy with plans for upcoming shows including the new venture in York, Penn. “I have 160 requests for contracts for this new show at the York County Fairgrounds, but have room for just under 130,” Frank said. He indicated he is exploring means to increase the number of exhibitors, but no definite plans have been made. This two-day show will be October 31-November 1, and run during the same time period as shows managed by Jim Burk and Barry Cohen. It is gearing up to be an active time in York.