"Troop Round Top"
Albertina Cisneros, Annie Roche, Sally Pretorius
Jada Mowles and Samantha Wortley
Laura Price with Mary Maguire Art
Laura Price, Sarah Ring, Lorene Agather
Madison Finley and Elaine Gustin
Sarah Branch, Catherine Branch, Jada Mowles
Royer's Round Top Cafe
Pie at Royer's Round Top Cafe
Marburger Farm Antique Show
For two weeks a year, people from across the country descend upon a tiny Texas town (with a population of 87!) for the Round Top Antiques Show. The show includes 65 venues in a 20-mile radius of Round Top. The trek from Austin (75 miles) and Houston (90 miles) is easy, but the longer haul from the Big D, located 215 miles north, prevents many Dallasites from adventuring to Round Top for the first time. Round Top is also confusing if you’ve never been — it’s difficult to navigate the differences between the shows, in addition to knowing when to go and where to stay. For these reasons, I found myself, a Round Top veteran, volunteering to charter a bus and take 19 other women to my favorite show — the Marburger Farm Antique Show — for a day trip. As the self-appointed Phyllis Nefler, I dubbed the adventurous squad “Troop Round Top.”
On the Big Day, we descended upon NorthPark Center at 4:45 a.m. Before I even arrived, a mall cop told the bus driver we couldn’t park at Neiman Marcus. “Go to Macy’s,” he said. As the troop members boarded the coach, I passed out branded breakfast boxes and party favors. A tote and scarf from Tara Roma (the designer of our “Troop Round Top” logo!), a Texas keychain from Jane Win, cozy slippers from Weezie, and personalized sunglasses from Camp Crafty.
After the sun came up, everyone introduced themselves and said what treasure they were seeking. The answers were niche: a ceramic tiger, a maiden’s cup, cowgirl barware…
The unwritten scripture of Marburger 24:15 says, “As for me and my house, we will go Early Bird.”
Earl Bird at the Marburger Farm Antiques Show
For Early Bird on the first day of Marburger, gates open at 8 am, and shopping starts at 9 am. The hour goes quickly because the fashion is compelling. It may be tents in a field, but don’t be fooled: it’s a runway. You will leave asking yourself, Do I need a coat made out of an old quilt? Can I pull off a Big Dumb Hat? For the latter, I polled the girls about their preferred sources. Cappello, Kemo Sabe, Freya, and Maison Michel rose to the top of the list.
Suddenly, a policeman on horseback trots up. A bell is rung. A ribbon is cut. Men and women canter with intention. It is The Hunger Games for vintage. May the odds be ever in your favor.
The troop members scatter like ants, weaving briskly from tent to tent admiring the artful curation of oddities and objects. Instantly, the group text lights up with photos and tips and tent geomarkers of “things I think you’d like.” Sally with her giant ceramic tiger. Jennifer with her maiden’s cup. Andrea with her cowgirl highballs. We spoke them all into existence.
The troop reconverged at the bus for lunch. Samantha came carrying two white tole palm tree lamps. Laura had a sailboat watercolor painting under her arm. One Sarah found a writing desk from the 1800s; the other Sarah bought a silver martini pitcher.
A Coveted Round Top Reservation
Perhaps the greatest find of all during Round Top, though, is a reservation at Royer’s Round Top Cafe. Like a good troop leader, I secured the bag. Our group came back to life over fried green tomatoes, grilled shrimp BLTs (the menu described it as having “an unbelievable taste profile”), and, most importantly, pie. (I recommend the Junkberry and Texas Trash.)
With renewed energy, we made our third and final stop at Blue Hills at Round Top, which includes both modern brands and antiques. Houses and Parties popped up at Blue Hills under a red and white circus tent. For reasons I’ll never know, I walked away with an overpriced pink satin and lace Elizabethan collar for my poodle, Tippi. (This should underscore how any sense of judgment becomes clouded by the lack of smog in Round Top.)
Windblown but blissfully happy, we drove back to Dallas, safely arriving back at the Mothership (NorthPark) by 7:45 p.m. We came. We saw. We conquered Round Top. And yes, I bought an old quilt to turn into a coat.