One of the tensts set up at last weekend's Madison-Bouckville Outdoor Antiques Show in upstate New York.
The headlines read: “Mid-Summer Blues Amidst a Depressed Marketplace!” I see it every day in the newspaper and on CNN, but someone forgot to tell the people in this beautiful upstate New York hamlet of Bouckville.
Every year for the last 17 years, this sleepy little town of Bouckville host the Madison-Bouckville Outdoor Antiques Show, a great outdoor is held in the where hundreds of antique dealers and flea market vendors flock to display their wares and recent finds in open fields that had until just recently been occupied by corn, barley, and cows. They are closely followed by hordes of antique fans and aficionados, eager for the find of a lifetime and the thrill of the hunt!
There is a lot of glass to be found at this event just about every year.
Set against the background of some of New York’s most majestic hills and beautiful farm country, the dealers migrate from across the country to erect their tents and offer their antique treasures to the masses. They know that antique collectors come from across this wide country seeking objects of their desire, usually with success. This year’s event, held Aug. 14-16, was a mixed bag of high-quality antiques and just plain junk! The economy’s precarious situation (tanked!) was evident in the myriad displays of stuff.
Dealers and collectors alike were complaining of the meager offerings and slim pickings, but they are a contentious lot and complaints are just a ploy to keep their finds a secret. There were some empty spaces that were in the recent years past occupied by venders, but the turnout was nonetheless large and remarkable. I found plowing through the fields of merchandise difficult but productive as the collectible watch business is alive and well.
The “main event” opens for load-in on Thursday, while Friday is dealer day (a steep $40 admission), and general admission begins on Saturday and runs through Sunday. For $7 and free parking, the Madison-Bouckville Outdoor Antiques Show proclaims “1,000 dealers,” and even if there is not that number officially, there’s still a lot to look over.
In addition, several local enterprising property owners up and down Rt. 20 rent spaces to dealers extending, a the three-day show to a week long event. Bono’s, Indian Openings, Hinneman’s, and Quaker Acres are but a few of the dozen or so “sub shows” where hundreds of “pickers” come a week ahead of the main event to scour the fields in search of that elusive bargain.
Sometimes it took some careful hunting, but there were treasured to be found.
Many, including yours truly, camp out on the back fields in tents, campers and the back seat. There are motels and an Indian casino within a 20 mile radius, and Syracuse and Utica are an equidistant 45-odd miles in either direction for those that need a city. The area is steeped in history; the Chittenango Canal, circa 1855, the Landmark Inn, circa 1790, Colgate University, established 1819, and the Hotel Solsville, est. 1939. The Landmark Inn has the best in fine dining and wines in addition to accommodations, while Hotel Solsville, just up the road, has the best burger and cold beer anywhere! I have no idea what’s available at the casino, but I hear it’s expensive. Local motels charge a very reasonable $40 to $90, depending on availability. The quaint historic village of Casanovia, established 1793, about 25 miles east has reasonable accommodations, fine dining, antique shops, and a fabulous lake.
The weather is always a major factor at an outdoor event of this nature, and Madison-Bouckville is no exception. This year the gods were kind, as there was plenty of sunshine. In years past, the rain came and turned these old cornfields into a gooey brown quagmire. The furrows of mud created by cars and trucks looked like huge servings of chocolate mousse sprinkled with little red, yellow and blue compact cars hopelessly stuck in the mud. The main event field has a fleet of antique farm tractors used during the show for deliveries and pulling out mud-stuck vehicles, so, no worries!
The turnout this year, all-in-all, was very good, as both dealer and collector alike hit the field with gusto! There was the typical lack of high-end merchandise, but no shortage of collectibles from A to Z. No fabulous paintings, bronzes, or National treasures turned up, but the few pieces of Stickley offered sold very quickly. Antique furniture and glass are popular items here, along with primitives and rugs. Utica N.Y. , the home of tools and tool-making Corning company—the home of glass—and Hamilton, the home of Colgate U are nearby and have historically contributed a wealth of product and education to this area. The Chittenango Canal and the Erie Canal, along with the railroads later, brought wealth and prosperity to this region during America’s Industrial Revolution. This state’s capitol of Albany is a mere 65 odd miles away.
It’s too late for this year’s event, but for those who know not to miss it next year, here’s the Web site. And for those that need to know more, click here. There is also a spring event; find your info and directions here.
David Mycko is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in antique and vintage watches.
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