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Culture / Travel

The Ultimate Round Top Antiques Fair Guide

True Expert Picks, Shopping Strategies and Inside Intel

BY // 10.01.15

We’ve finally got the Round Top Antiques Fair all figured out — all we had to do was ask the experts. Anne Lee Phillips gets the scoop from top tastemakers on what to seek, and where to go. Get ready to hit it hard. The fair officially ends Saturday, October 3. Click here for all the details.

David Lackey and Russell Prince, antiquarians and artists
Round Top veterans: David, 30 years; Russell, 15 years.
Hunting for: Unexpected finds, anything quirky or eccentric, folk art, tramp art frames and old photographs.
Word to the wise: There have definitely been a few scores over the years (mostly Texas and Louisiana art), but most of these dealers know what they’re selling.
Prized finds: A large 19th-century marble bust of a French solider whose head had broken off — the surrealist aspect of it being headless was irresistible — and a collection of slightly battered and string-less antique violins.
Plan of attack: David goes to Cole’s Antiques, while Russell goes to the barns in the next field for architectural and industrial items.
Must-visit vendor: Clutter in Warrenton.
Where to stay: We stayed with friends until one night, years ago, when we endured a scene straight out of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. We switched to day trips thereafter. Recently we stayed at the La Quinta in Brenham or Holiday Inn Suites in Schulenberg. I hear Round Top has lots of charming bed-and-breakfast inns — I loathe bed-and-breakfast inns.
Tips and tricks: Bring a cooler of bottled water. Wear hats (to avoid sunstroke), have a good driver (David is ours), be nice to the locals (they may be armed). Most importantly, don’t lose your head and buy a bunch of crap that’ll end up in your next garage sale.
Do you visit any time other than Antiques Week? Oh, God … No.

 

Randy Powers, interior designer, J. Randall Powers
Round Top veteran: Twenty years. It’s addictive.
Plan of attack: A good shopper never reveals their route, but I will say I always start to the left of a show. Call me superstitious.
Hunting for: Primitive English furniture, vintage fabrics for a fabric line I’m working on, Navajo pine-needle baskets.
Prized find: A collection of birch-framed silhouettes of an entire family, dog included. Twenty minutes after I bought the collection, a famous New England dealer offered me 10 times what I paid. I wouldn’t sell — they hang at my farm now, and I adore them.
Must-visit vendors: Sandy Worrell at the Big Red Barn, Ann Faison at Marburger.
Shopping sustenance: Lunch is always at Lone Star BBQ in Warrenton. Dinner — well, margaritas always, at Los Patrones in Round Top.
Tips and tricks: Advil, Nikes with added insoles, five L.L. Bean monogrammed bags in varying sizes and extra cell phone battery. I also bring sold tags with my name on them — I tag the things I want and go back later and pay.
Hauling antiques: I bring my farm truck, which is an extended F150 with a giant cattle guard. The day-trippers and stroller moms get out of the way.
Surrounding areas worth seeing (not just during antiques week): I’m a Texas boy. I love all the neighboring small towns!

 

Ashley Putman, graphic designer
Round Top rookie: Three years (under the tutelage of veterans).
Prime times: I go the Thursday before it starts, to beat the crowds, and then again on the last day to get the deals
Hunting for: Always seeking curiosities and antique china. This year I’m also looking for an unusually large antique French chandelier.
Unusual finds: A taxidermy chicken under glass, papier-mâché eagle and a Moroccan statue.
Must visit: I always go to the big ones like Marburger Farm and Excess, but my favorites are the smaller dealers that set up tables anywhere.
Shopping sustenance: Los Patrones for margaritas and Mexican food, Stone Cellar for pizza and Hruska’s on Hwy 71 for kolaches.
Where to stay: We stay at our farm in Fayetteville, but we recommend Blackbird Farm to friends. Joan Herring, the owner, makes guests feel right at home.

 

Lee Ellis, restaurateur (Liberty Kitchen, BRC)
Round Top veterans: Five years.
Hunting for: Light fixtures, special furniture, tables, chairs and one-of-a-kind pieces for the restaurants.
Prized find: A red fox that I keep in my office.
Plan of attack: My wife, Melissa (owner of Miss-T-Vious, a children’s clothing line), and I go the first week, when Blue Hill Farms opens. We always like to go early — never on the last weekend when it gets too crowded. Then we go to the fields to see some of the vendors with whom we do business.
Lodging: My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have a farm, so we stay with them.
Tips and tricks: Bring a raincoat and rubber boots. Wear the most comfortable shoes you own. Go as early as possible to avoid the heat.
Must-visit vendors: I’m keeping them secret! I don’t want anyone to find them.
Local BBQ: Giddings. Also Snow’s BBQ in Lexington.

 

Sandy Lucas, Interior Designer, Lucas/Eilers
Round Top veterans: My business partner, Sarah Eilers, and I have been going since the early ’80s when Rifle Hall was the only venue. We were delighted the year Emma Lee Turney added tents behind the Hall to accommodate more dealers.
Prized finds: An antique scale used to weigh parchment architectural plans that has a sculptural quality to it. Sarah and I both collect antique monogrammed sterling-silver napkin rings.
Hot bargain hunter: One year Matthew McConaughey was shopping alongside us!
Hunting for: Lighting, accessories, garden fragments. The best finds are the ones you didn’t know you were looking for.
Plan of attack: Saturday on the first weekend to visit Warrenton, Blue Hills and Arbor Antiques. On Tuesday, we arrive at Marburger Farm bright and early to beat the crowds. If you get there at 8:30, there is no wait at the gate (it opens at 10 am) — just bring extra coffee.
Must-visit vendors: Canterbury Court, A. Tyner, Georgia Morrel, Eclectic Architecturals, Inner Pieces, Jennifer Zanetti, Melissa Levinson, Janet Weibe.
Shopping sustenance: Royer’s for dinner and, if we are spending the night (at one of our generous client’s houses), heavenly pies for dessert, but the Methodist Men’s BBQ at Blue Hills is arguably the best in Texas. And no trip to Round Top would be complete without a large bag of kettle corn for the drive home.
Surrounding spots (not just during antiques week): Old World Antieks in La Grange is a regular stop on the way to Austin.
Strategy: We make lists of antiques, including dimensions, and divide and conquer among our staff of up to 12. Rolling Hills delivery company on site makes it easy to purchase large items. We have a basket cart on wheels to carry small purchases.
Local fair love: We’ve visited antiques fairs in France, Italy and all around the states, but our favorite is Round Top, in our own backyard. We visit Round Top dealers in their shops across the country — in L.A. this spring, we found several items at Melissa Levinson Antiques that they will bring to Texas for us in the fall.

 

Rachel Ashwell, interior designer/owner of The Prairie
Round Top veteran: 10 years.
Hunting for: My typical shopping list for myself and for Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture stores and shabbychic.com merchandisers includes smaller pieces of furniture, end tables and coffee tables in my signature finishes of flaky white, blue, pink or anything pastel.
Plan of attack: I go twice a year to all the Round Top antique shows. I love the Marburger show, and I love going to the show’s pre-opening and at the end of the schedule, as well as to the treasure-hunting troves of nearby Warrenton.
Prized finds: Prized items to me have the perfect palette and patina. I’ve been shopping the flea markets for over 25 years, and so many wonderful treasures have passed through my hands. The joy of owning my business is that it gives me a purpose to continually buy treasures.
Lodging: For many years, I stayed at the Outpost at Cedar Creek Inn. I bought the Outpost in 2010 and transformed it into what is now a Shabby Chic hotel, farm and boutique called The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell.
Tips and tricks: A supply of water and sunblock are a must. Cash is always preferred at the markets and more likely to have negotiating power. Know in advance how to get your objects home — there are a few shippers in the fields that can help. Have a good measurement of what you need, both the size of the piece and the access to get the piece in the door.
Know what you want (and what you don’t): Be decisive as you shop, and once you see something you love, it’s best not to hesitate. Have a good idea of what you are looking for — it’s better to come away empty-handed than with stuff you don’t need.
Must-visit shops: Lizzie Lou and Junk Gypsy stores in Round Top, Whistle-Stop in Giddings, Uncommon Objects in Austin.

Home, chic home.

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