Published: April 27, 2004
There is no official name for it. No one person or organization runs it. In fact, it just grew, and it just happens. What is it? It’s Round Top.
Round Top happens twice each year, and March 27 to April 4 was one such extended week. There are four little towns about half the way between Houston and Austin – Shelby, Carmine, Warrenton and, of course, Round Top – that have had antiques shops for many years. More than 20 years ago, there began several small antiques shows. The first took place in Carmine. The hall was so small it accommodated fewer than 20 dealers, so it was moved to an old clubhouse called The Rifle Hall in the adjacent town of Round Top. Very quickly there developed a variety of tailgating shows, or simply fields of merchandise, much like Brimfield, Mass.
This twice-each-year week now stretches among the four towns, with at least 20 different shows, markets or fields. Some of the week’s events are antiques shows, others are tented outdoor bazaars, and, in a few cases, others look like a few friends have gathered in the front yard. Round Top has been scheduled for the week ending with the first weekend of April. Most of the events are on a 15-mile stretch of a two-lane road, Texas Route 237, which goes from LaGrange to Burton, between the four-lane highways of State Highway 71 and US Route 290. Approaching from LaGrange, Round Top begins inauspiciously, just some multifamily yard sales.
Within a mile of Warrenton (population under 200) there are suddenly signs inviting visitors to “park all day $4” – next it is $5, then $10. Just as surprising, the yard sales become a sea of tents. Hundreds of acres of gently rolling hills are covered with the small tents that have become the look of outdoor antiques shows.
The biggest show of the week was Marburger Farm, owned and operated by Tyler, Texas, native John Sauls (See separate review). But these other smaller shows are good, too.
Tents filled with a wide array of antiques and vintage collectibles invite visitors to come in. Antiques in Texas are generally from later periods than those found in the Northeast, but then Texas was formed in the Nineteenth Century. The materials available were generally softwoods, such as pine and cypress for furniture and red and yellow clays for ceramics. These materials give Texas antiques a unique look, and the colors, like the climate, were hot. Bright shades of yellow, red, blue and green are the norm and frequently seen coverings in all native early articles.
Carol Schmidt and her husband from nearby Burton, Texas, started La Bahia 11 years ago in a small collection of old buildings, stores and houses. It is just a wide spot in the road the rest of the year; during Round Top it is the center for 70 dealers inside an old meeting hall, with more scattered around the immediate area. Dealers pay fairly high rents for their spaces but there is no charge for customers to enter or for parking. This show had several dealers of Flow Blue dishes and high-end Nineteenth Century furniture. Outside, dealers offered linens and painted furniture. The Schmidts can be reached at 979-289-2684 or .
At one of the Warrenton fields, there was a tent approximately 40 by 100 feet filled with regency and Victorian furniture, including at least five sets of chairs in excellent condition. In the Northeast, these chairs might have been covered in white muslin, but this dealer had all the sets reupholstered in strong colored and patterned fabrics. This seemed to be fairly typical in all the week’s offerings, the shows had large amounts of decorating materials ready to go into the home.
The fall edition of Round Top is first weekend of October. If you rent a car, elect the “no mileage” or the lowest mileage options. Texas is big, and 50-75 miles can easily be the ride to your hotel or to a good restaurant.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm