Of all the shows that we visited, the most upscale was the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair, which is held twice a year at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. This year’s spring show – the Fair’s 35th – features 180 dealers and will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29. Even if you’re not really in the market to buy, it should be loads of fun perusing the dozens of booths, the contents of each arranged into carefully designed tableaux highlighting the beautiful, in some cases handmade forms, textures and colors of the wares. It’s the antithesis to the seat-of-the-pants flea market or yard sale, where you often have to paw through daunting piles of junk.
While some of the booths will showcase Early American, English and French furniture with pricetags in the thousands of dollars, “There’s always some funky things in the show – things you never knew existed,” noted Brett Brandes, the show manager. In fact, the spring show has a mid-end focus (whereas the fall show contains the more formal furniture). A tchotchke could cost anywhere from $20 to $500, while a distinguished or fanciful piece of furniture will range from $200 to $10,000. Besides the general antique dealers, who hail from as far away as Ohio and Louisiana, there will be specialists in jewelry, pottery (including dishes, vases and statues), rugs, prints and maps and frames.
Brandes said that after a few years of decline in the number of dealers, the roster is up and back to normal. The lingering lackluster economy, however, means that prices are still lower than they were five years ago. “People are buying merchandise for themselves” – rather than for investment – “and they’re haggling more,” he said.
The Fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10; children under 12 get in free. Visit www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com for discounted tickets. Parking is free, and there’s an on-site delivery service. The show is held indoors, so it won’t be affected by rain.