Welcome to my article on the antiques extravaganza known as the Round Top Antique Show or simply, Round Top to the regulars. This group of antiques shows located in central Texas around the tiny community of Round Top, TX, takes place twice a year. This event happens in the spring and fall, around the first of March and the first of October. Although, now some of the many shows stretch out over two weeks, so be sure and check the calendars of some of the shows. I will give some links later in the article to at least the two biggest shows. It is hard to put into words the magnitude of this event, but I will do my best.
The shows actually are spread out over miles and several different towns. It all started over forty years ago with one small antique show at Round Top. It is my understanding that the promoter of this first show (which is still going strong) also promoted shows in Houston and Austin. So she started this show to draw customers from both cities. Gradually, and I am not sure why, the shows grew in both numbers and popularity, and they continue to grow today. Although many people have tried to capitalize on the huge crowds that come to this huge, unique event, and tried to start shows that just never got off the ground.
We were dealers at one of the two largest shows for about ten tears so we have quite a bit of experience and will try to give you a good flavor of what you might expect if you have the pleasure of coming to Round Top. The first thing you need to do is make reservations for accommodations. The three largest towns in the area are La Grange, Giddings, and Brenham. There are also lots of bed and breakfast place around. Again, I will try to provide some links to help, but you can get Google to give you more. None of these towns have enough rooms to handle the thousands of visitors that invade this area twice a year, and many of these visitors have standing reservations. My wife even had the same room reserved each time. The earlier you can make them the more choices you will have. I might warn you in advance that most of the motels in the area will not qualify as 4 or 5 star hotels, and the prices are inflated during this time. They are not extremely high, usually in the $75 a night range. You need to allow a minimum of three days if you really want to be exposed to the Round Top experience.
The week before the big shows are more for the people wanting to rough it. Most of the dealers are set up in tents and fields spread out over several miles. But some of the best buys can be found that week. Some of the dealers from the big shows also set up this first week and buy as well as sell. As in many shows, some items will change hands several times. When you come for the first time I can nearly guarantee you be overwhelmed. You will literally see miles and miles of antiques of all shapes and sizes. But if you don’t like tromping through fields to find those diamonds in the rough, I suggest you wait for the big shows the following week. I don’t want to discourage you from coming the first week, but unless you can stay for the second week, and many do, you will miss the premier shows. And don’t think this is just Texas dealers, there are dealers from all over the U.S. and even some foreign countries. So there is something for all tastes, even those that are not antique nuts like me. Since the number of women shopping here out number the men, you will find many things for the non antique enthusiasts. There is lots of clothing and jewelry. There is a large dealer display of European linens in one of the fields. Don’t get me wrong, this is mainly an antique event but there are other things. There are some outstanding places t eat in the area. No trip to Round top would be complete without an evening meal at Royers Round Top Cafe. They have steaks that melt in your mouth and outstanding desserts if you leave room. Reservations are definitely required. The little towns have some surprising great places to eat, like the Chinese restaurant in the Wal-Mart strip shopping center in Giddings. It has some of the very best Chinese food anywhere. That review came from many different people. I don’t want this to turn into a restaurant review, but after a shop till you drop of antique shopping it is nice to have a decent meal in the evening.
Besides good food and drink, there is evening entertainment as well as late shopping at some of the venues. One of the favorite entertainment events is a big dance, called Prom Night on Thursday night where many wear formals from the 50s and 60s. Of course some are so tired they just want to get back to their room and get off their feet. Be sure and wear comfortable shoes and clothes for all sorts of weather. The spring and fall in Texas can bring fast weather changes. It can be hot and dry one day and cold and wet the next. Remember some of the vents are in big fields which can get real muddy when it rains, so be prepared.
Now to the promised reviews of the two biggest antique shows. First will be a discussion of the Marburger Farm Antique Show, where we set up for over ten years. There are over 350 dealers at this show, so be prepared to spend some time here. Early buying starts at 10:00 on Tuesday morning and goes till 2:00, the exact date is on the web site. For Spring 2011, the starting date is March 29th. At the time I wrote this early buying is $25 and is good for all five days of the show. After early buying the admission is $10. They have extended hours on opening day till 7:00. The rest of the week the hours are 9:00 till 5:00, except on Saturday, they close at 4:00. This is one of the most outstanding antique shows in the United States. If you love antiques you will surely find something to your liking here. There is something for every taste. Dealers come form all over the country to do this premier show. You can find primitives, Americana, fine European, and everything in between.
Many of the Marburger dealers save up their finest inventory to bring to this twice a year show. There are things in all price ranges here. Many shoppers come back several times during the week because there is so much to see. The variety of the things offered is truly amazing. Whether you are a designer, collector, casual shopper, or part of the antique trade, you can find things here you may not see anywhere else. Be sure to check out their above web site to see a sampling of their dealers and merchandise. Rather than trying to describe it all the pictures do a much better job and each show they take a ton of pictures and post it on their site. I plan on visiting the show this spring and will add my own touch after I return.
The next show is the Original Round Top Antiques Fair, known by many as the Big Red Barn. This was the show that started it all over 40 years ago. It starts on Wednesday, the day after Marburger. Although you will find antiques of all kinds here, they are known for their outstanding Americana offerings. In 2008 they added a Continental tent which houses fine antiques from several European countries. The owners of this show also own other shows and also offer shows in the winter and summer. See their web site above for details and also some great photos of some of their dealer offerings.
I will not try to say which is the best antique show, that is left up to your individual tastes. But you should definitely include both of the above shows on your schedule. This article ahs gone much too long. I will make an additional post when I return from the spring show. I will leave you a reminder to be sure and make reservations for accommodations as soon as possible. The ,Marburger Farm show’s web site has a link to help you find a place to stay. You will not regret making a trip to a Round Top Antique Show.