ROUND TOP, Texas – When the Marburger Farm Antique Show burst onto a Texas cow pasture in the fall of 1997, everyone knew that something unique was being branded in this town halfway between Houston and Austin.
Dealers called the new show “a breath of fresh air.” Shoppers just said, “Here we come!”
But no one knew the disasters of nature and history that America and the twice-yearly show would face for its first 30 shows over the last 15 years.
On Tuesday, April 3, through Saturday, April 7, the 30th edition of the Marburger Farm Antique Show will feature over 350 national and international exhibitors, with a crowd of shoppers from across the United States and around the world.
“Through rain, sleet, snow or 100-degree weather, here they come,” said Tallahassee, Fla., exhibitor Carol O’Steen. She could have added: through 9/11, through Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, when gas hit $5, when the banks melted down, through two wars and with one show opening in the worst week in the economy in generations.
Why has the Marburger Farm Antique Show been able to flourish during such a difficult era in America?
O’Steen continued, “In spite of all that has happened in the world, people still need a break. Marburger Farm is a kind of retreat. Some years people may buy more than other years, but they still come. People look forward to coming to Marburger Farm all year.”
The Marburger Farm site includes 43 rolling acres, Lake Marburger, a herd of Texas Longhorns and 10 huge tents and a dozen historic buildings, packed with antique dealers and select artisans.
At the spring show O’Steen will offer over 600 sterling napkin rings and early American coin silver, including rare Southern coin silver. “My goal at Marburger is that each person will take time to relax and enjoy the moment—and go home with packages and wonderful memories.”
Judy Hill of J Hill Designs agrees. “It takes strong people to create something that gives other people an outlet in the face of disasters. Antique shows are a stress reliever. We are a community, an antiques community. We love to be together and we love what we do. We love the people who come because we all have this in common: We connect over antiques. I don’t even call them customers. They are people who love the same things that I do.” Hill will offer what she calls “soft industrial” antiques in metal and wood, plus an arbor and other garden antiques, with lots of white for a spring palette.
Other reasons for the success of Marburger Farm have to do with its original founding by veteran dealers John Sauls and Ed Gage. As Sauls puts it, “We wanted a top-quality show that was focused on taking care of vendors. Our thought was: If vendors are happy, customers will be happy.” Sauls’ defining goal for Marburger Farm? “Quality.”
In 2007 Margaret Marsh Mebus and her children, their spouses and six grandchildren purchased the show. Marburger took on a more family-friendly feel but the word “quality” continues to guide Marburger Farm—quality, now, on a massive scale. Jerry Watkins of Sniktaw Antiques in Gurney, Ill., says, “Marburger Farm has such an eclectic and quality mix of antiques that it appeals to a wide range of people of all ages. Anyone who is interested in anything can find something at Marburger Farm. And, even in economic down times, quality still sells. Plus, you can find things there that will be nowhere else.”
Michael Roberts of Roberts Antiques in Homer, Mch., lifts up the customer-friendly vibe at Marburger Farm. “We do shows all over America and Marburger Farm is the only place that is consistent, show in, show out. Parking is easy, not a lot of hassle. And Marburger has something for everyone. We have a wide price range.” Roberts will alight in Texas with antiques from France and Italy, plus art, garden antiques, lighting and wicker.
There are other reasons for the success of the Marburger Farm Antique Show: the overflowing booth spaces that allow more space for so much more merchandise than at other shows; the long three-day setup that gives dealers the time to bring in this unusually massive amount of merchandise. Then there are those stunning booth displays that are now the norm at Marburger Farm. And then there is that strong Texas economy and all those store owners, interior designers, and moms and dads and kids and multiple generations who enjoy being together in the midst of antiques, history and beauty.
Why does Marburger Farm flourish? Lowell Dunn, Canterbury Court, Corsicana, Texas, echoes the theme: “It’s the excellent mix and quality of the antiques. Even with all that goes on in the world, people still want comfortable homes and to be surrounded with things that they love. That’s what Marburger Farm dealers offer.” Dunn takes great effort to offer it, traveling to England to unearth pottery, Staffordshire, majolica and furniture with an English country home style.
Ashley Ferguson, co-owner of the show, said she “just had an email from a couple in New Zealand, wanting to purchase early buying tickets.” For its 30th show, Marburger Farm customers will come from across oceans, they will come by SUV, pickup and by limos, sometimes they come by horseback or helicopter. “In spite of all that has happened in the world, we have been very fortunate and feel very blessed,” says Ferguson. “We seek out the most creative dealers and artisans from all over the world and they scour the planet for the best antiques on earth. And then it’s all gathered in one place, for only a precious few days—in a unique setting that can only be Texas.”
So come to the Marburger Farm Antique Show this spring and help celebrate their 30th show. There will be a full-service cafe, endless supplies of ice tea and lemonade, wi-fi, air-conditioned restrooms, daily cash drawings, cold beer and frozen “Marburitas.” And, if our luck holds out, bluebonnets will be in bloom.
The Marburger Farm Antique Show opens for early buying with $25 admission on Tuesday, April 3, from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m, when regular $10 admission begins. One admission is good all week, with the show running on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, April 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance tickets and group tickets are available.
Antiques, vintage and artisan creations will include American, French, English, Continental, architectural, fine art, jewelry, textiles, mid-century modern, silver, western, garden, painted furniture, early Texas and more. A portion of the spring show proceeds will benefit the Texas Children’s Hospital. Parking is free and admission is free for children 15 and under. Dogs on a leash are always welcome.
See information on vendors, the new Marburger Farm mobile app, travel, maps, lodging, on-site shipping and special events at www.roundtop-marburger.com or call Rick McConn at 800-999-2148 or Ashley Ferguson at 800-947-5799.
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