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November 12, 2020
What an experience it was to visit Round Top Antique Fair! In every way! It is truly the most massive and incredible collection of antiques in one place! It's so much fun, but you can get overwhelmed and frustrated if you aren't prepared with a few guidelines. I just had to share some of our stories and tips in case you ever want to go. There is a definitely a smart way to do it, and we will probably get better at it every time we go.
The first thing you deal with is deciding where to stay. We were doing this last minute, so we googled Round Top and made a reservation at the Pecan Street Inn, in Bastrop, Texas. This was about 45 minutes from Round Top, but the little town had a Starbucks and a Chili's for dinner, so that was a plus.
Let's just talk about lodging for a minute. This can be the most challenging thing about going to this event, so Tip #1: I recommend reserving lodging months in advance. There are a few little bed and breakfasts right in Round Top, but since those fill up quickly, you either have to stay in a neighboring town or rent an "Airbnb," the latter of which I highly recommend if you are not "adventurous."
You have to be a certain personality to stay at a bed and breakfast, and honestly, we don't know if we still have it in us. But I have to tell you it added a lot of "color" to our trip. We got there late at night to find the key to the inn sticking out of the mailbox. The innkeeper had been so very friendly on the phone, but we soon discovered that she actually lived down the street. So we were alone in this place with two other couples, whom the inn keeper had identified as "one couple from Phoenix" and "one couple from Oregon."
Okay, we thought. Lights were left on for us in the front hall, and we tried to tip toe up to our room on super loud creaky wooden stairs. There was no way we didn't wake them up! Oh well.
So we got the corner room, all Victorianed-up with lace curtains and a door that locked after jimmying the sliding lock as you would have seen in a speakeasy in the '20s. The only channel our TV showed was "Hee Haw," a country music comedy variety show from the 70s, actually a favorite of mine as a little girl.
The next morning, there was no breakfast due to covid, so we left all our things in the room, hoping we had honest guests staying in this place. You see, there was no way to lock our room. The sliding lock only worked from the inside! Sigh! Well, it was an adventure.
The best thing about where we stayed was that we passed what ended up as my favorite store/vendor, Old World Antieks in La Grange, Texas. We decided that would have been a good town to stay in if there was lodging, as it was so much closer to Round Top.
Okay, this place was "da bomb!" It was massive - both the store and the warehouse, that they encouraged customers to peruse as well. There were vignettes like this all over, with high quality antiques and furniture.
This copper was beautiful although my husband said it was mass-produced and not the quality of the unique antique copper we would look for, and never find actually. There were tons of beautiful statues like this all through the store.
This was one of my favorite corners of the store. I love everything, and we weren't even to Round Top yet!
Have you ever heard the phrase that "everything's bigger in Texas?" Well it's true.
Even their warehouse was chock FULL of rows and rows of treasures up to the ceiling.
You may think I'm crazy, but I fell in love with these red fire buckets, used in the old days for scooping ash from the fireplaces. I got a green one instead, thinking it went better with our colors, and I wish I had bought a red one. On to the actual Round Top! I didn't buy anything here until the next day, so that I could shop prices at Round Top, and I'm glad I did. Thus, Tip #2: Don't buy anything sizable on the first day. Wait to shop prices.
As you can tell, it was a super windy day and cold temps with rain - not the best for walking in and out of tents and open-air buildings. These girls were prepared, and I wanted to share this picture with you. They really nailed it! Many groups of ladies all decked out in fancy clothes and jewelry were getting blown around from tent to tent, but there is no reason to dress up! As these darling girls show, you can look cute but dress in a reasonable way. This level of antiquing is very hard work, and you need to be dressed for it or you'll be sorry. Tip #3: Dress casually for the weather with comfortable water-proof shoes.
We started at a few small tents along the 26-mile spread of antiques in this little town of Round Top, Texas. I loved these santos, antique religious artifacts that are usually from a very old cathedral, sometimes in Europe. My husband used to collect them, but he says, well how many can you have! Guess he's not collecting them anymore!
These were my favorites as far as prints go. They were fabulous deep color, wonderful Western and animal themes, and high quality - some for only $50. We ended up with a few! I was annoyed at another vendor who raved about his cheapy already framed prints that had wood veneer mats. Who cares about the frame when the actual print is not any good? These were beautiful.
How fabulous are these? And I do think they were relatively good prices compared to what they would retail for in a store at home. But I didn't make the leap.
So we travelled back to our home base of Bastrop, and decided we would just get dinner on the way home. We were searching for a larger restaurant due to covid, and we ended up at Chili's which was great food and friendly, but not the cleanest place I've ever seen. We ate quickly and returned to the grand old Inn on Pecan Street.
We noticed the two other cars were there. Our unknown co-guests were home! Hmmmm...... We walked in the front door to two couples in their seventies who actually knew each other very well, laughing and talking with drinks and snacks on the kitchen table that they had brought with them. Tip #4: Bring breakfast, bring lunch, bring snacks, bring cocktails and water bottles and anything else you want to eat and drink! You will need it. There are not many restaurants to choose from, especially during a pandemic!
The couples yelled for us to come join them in the kitchen, and we politely accepted. They obviously knew how to do this - drinks and snacks - either one would have been nice! I found a mini bottle of water in the refrigerator that the inn owner had apparently left. Slim pickings!
We quickly got to know each other, laughing about how we thought we woke each other up with the creaky stairs and the lack of door locks. We found out they were related and had come together to antique for a week in Round Top, very laid back and relaxed.
We laughed about the one man's red hat that said, "Make America Great Again." I said I knew he was popular at Round Top because I saw huge Trump signs all over the farm lands as we drove in. They all kept laughing and said the Texas women were all over him at the tents, wishing they had a hat just like his.
Pretty soon, after much more laughter and getting to know our "inn-mates" quite well, we said good night only to hear outside our door later, "C'mon everyone! Party in the Hee-Haw room!" I hope we see these hilarious friends again someday.
The next day, we had a short 1/2 day to finish our shopping, and it was spend at the much admired Marburger compound, my husband's favorite and probably one of the largest and best quality areas. It was a day of deciding what we wanted to actually purchase and what we could do without. As you can see, it was crazy cold and windy. I was thankful I had my down coat but needed a hat.
We were in a hurry so I wasn't able to photograph a lot booths, but this was by far my favorite, filled with vintage treasures all in one place. Not many of these vintage-themed booths existed. As David says, you have to be in the mood to HUNT. Tip #5: Plan to hunt and dig for your treasures. They may not be on a formal display at a compound building.
This is the type of open-air barns that were all over the main road of Round Top, usually in a compound with other buildings. Then there are also miles and miles of tents with lower priced, lower quality items.
It's not just about antiques! There is jewelry, accessories and some clothing as well.
True vintage treasure! This colorful antique poster is a typical piece you could find at Round Top.
If we would have needed these, I would have bought them! Beautiful pillow sleeves similar to what I have seen at Restoration Hardware for a much higher price.
Signs galore! Wow, I've never seen so many wonderful vintage signs anywhere at one time. If you're in the market for one, I suggest making a trip to Round Top.
One of my favorite booths at Blue Hills compound. They take your photographs and enlarge them to fit old barn wood windows. Such a cool and unusual way to display pictures!
There wasn't a whole lot of Christmas decor, so when I saw it, I made note. Can you get the idea of the massive quantity of antiques at this place? And this was just the tip of the iceberg!
Tip #6: Plan to spend at least three days at Round Top Antique Fair. With 26 miles of tents and compounds, you will want to spend as much time as possible. It lasts a week, so if you can bring your own food for some meals, you might be able to survive in the pandemic!
Tip #7: Don't plan to go on the first day! Deals get better as the week goes on.
Tip #8: Stay as close to Round Top as you can. We are going to try for La Grange, Texas next time. That is where my favorite store, Old World Antieks, is located! It's a must see, and it was twice as close as where we stayed.
Tip #9: Make it fun with a small group or your spouse. If you get too many people, you will lose everyone, and people will not agree on which of the many tents and compounds to visit.
Tip #10: Make a plan. Talk to someone who has been to Round Top about their favorite compounds and decide if you visit those places first or the little tents with cheaper prices first. Our favorite compounds were: Marburger, Blue Hills,The Big Red Barn and The Compound.
I hope you make it to Round Top Antiques Fair sometime. It is twice a year, usually in September or October and then in May. With covid, things are subject to change, so you can keep in touch with the schedule at www.roundtoptexasantiques.com.
Have fun and enjoy the Hee Haw channel while you're there!
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Hi! I'm Merrie. I'm a lover of lake life and all the styles to go with it. Enjoy shopping through my store and being lakeside with me!