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Round Top Antiques & Crafts Show Guide

Published in 0, Around Town, Shopping, Texas Fun on March 18th, 1998
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Shop ’til You Drop in Old Round Top

Everything you always wanted to know
about the Round Top Antiques and Crafts Show
but were afraid to ask!

Antique Craft Central - Okay, you’ve heard about Round Top on TV or maybe in a newspaper or magazine. Considering Round Top’s glut of high profile public relations over the past years, it’s likely that’s how you heard about this little town of 90.

warrenton2After all Emma Lea Turney’s Creative Market and Folk Art Fair, the Festival-Institute at Round Top, its music and herb gardens, and even this magazine have been the subjects of a lot of media attention.

Perhaps a friend visited and raved about the “Round Top show” and now you just have to come see what all the fuss is about. It sounds relaxing to do a little antiques and crafts shopping in a tiny town lost in the Texas countryside.

If you call only several weeks ahead and try to get a room, everyone will be much too nice to laugh, but even so, you’ll find that all the inns are full. Okay, that’s a minor setback, but you swear to do better in the spring.

Then, when the fateful day arrives, you drive over to Round Top. As you turn onto Highway 237 from Highway 71, you notice the traffic getting a little stiff, but you don’t let that bother you either.

You’re a professional shopper. You’re a lean, mean buying machine, and you carry cash. Nothing can stop you—except Warrenton.

Suddenly, the horizon is filled with tents and tables covered with every implement of household decoration known to man. People are rushing around like piranhas in a feeding frenzy. Traffic is at a standstill. You’re lost, bewildered, and distraught. What can you do? What can you do?

It’s simple. Just open the world-famous Round Top Register

Oh yeah, you already did that.

HOW BIG IS IT!

Nobody knows of course. After all, the show has increased steadily for more than four decades. At this point, the main event has grown to include six small towns in the area: Round Top, Warrenton, Carmine, Shelby, Burton, and Fayetteville. Additionally, there are shows across the countryside between these small communities.

Our wild guess is that there are over three hundred acres housing 2,500 dealers! That’s a lot of shopping to do in three weeks, let alone a weekend.

In addition, a number of communities either enroute to the show or in the area have special antiques and crafts events, either in local shops or at shared locations, timed to occur simultaneously with the Round Top shows. This is true in Flatonia, Bellville, Columbus, Smithville, La Grange, Brenham, and Schulenburg to name a few.

You might want to consider wearing your Nikes.

Emma1WHERE DID IT COME FROM?

The show all began in the Round Top Rifle Association Hall back in the late 1960′s. Miss Emma Lee Turney and her company, Antiques Productions, founded it. Miss Turney then added a huge new venue she called the “Big Red Barn.” It’s out on Highway 237 between Round Top and Carmine. You can’t miss it.

Over the years however, an increasing number of other shows opened up across the region, and many have grown to be substantial events on their own. For example, Marburger Farm Antique Show, located on the highway between Round Top and Warrenton, covers forty-three acres and features over 350 dealers. Contact Marburger Farm at 800-947-5799 or visit roundtop-marburger.com.

A few years ago, Emma Lee sold her locations to another successful promoter, Susan Franks of Franks Productions who can be reached at 512-237-4747 or at info@roundtoptexasantiques.com. In addition to the 30,000 square feet of display space in the barn itself, Ms. Franks has added a huge tent next door to house European antiques.

Emma Lee still runs her Round Top Folk Art Fair and Creative Market, which remains at the location on Highway 237 across from Festival Hill. She has expanded it considerably, so it’s still a great venue. You can email turnyshows@aol.com or call 281-493-5501 for more information.

WHEN DOES IT HAPPEN?

Traditionally, the shows occur the first full weekend of April and October each year. However, in the last few years, “antique weekend” has become “antique week” or even “antique-up-to-three-weeks.”

Particularly in Warrenton, dealers show up ready to sell as early as three weeks before the Round Top show. In fact, unsubstantiated rumor has it that some dealers show up early for the Warrenton show to stock up for resale at the Round Top events. Who knows? Antiqualope gossip runs rampant.

Even so, there is no question that Warrenton is going strong by the weekend before “antique weekend.”

I WANT A BOOTH
HOW DO I GET ONE?

Okay, here’s the deal. Setting up shop at the Round Top, Warrenton and other area shows is a little confusing. You see, there is no single individual or organization that sponsors the event. It just grew organically like beneficial bacteria.

Warrenton-3There are now multiple individual major shows. Every year new ones pop up, and occasionally, some old ones die out. The various shows and dealers are not always cooperative and supportive when it comes to their competitors, so be careful about what you hear from one show about another.

The closest thing to a master contact list is available at the Round Top Chamber of Commerce. Give them a call at 979-249-4042 and good luck!

HOW DO I GET THERE?
AND OH, THAT TRAFFIC!

From Houston the prettiest way to get to Round Top is to go west on Interstate 10, turn north onto Highway 36 in Sealy, and then turn left onto FM 1094 just over the railroad tracks. Then, when you reach New Ulm, take a right on FM 109 and go to Industry. At Industry’s only stop light, take a left on Highway 159. Go just a few miles, take a right on FM 1457 and follow it into Round Top. This is one of the most beautiful rides in the state, so go slow and enjoy.

An alternate route is to take Highway 290 headed west. Turn left on Highway 237 about three miles past Burton, and drive eight miles to Round Top. Another is to take Interstate 10 to Columbus then grab Highway 71 to La Grange. Exit on Highway 159 in La Grange, take a right and go eighteen miles to Round Top. A few miles out of La Grange, Highway 159 turns right to Fayetteville; the road straight ahead becomes Highway 237, which goes to Warrenton and Round Top.

If you’re coming from Austin, there is a northern and a southern route. Highway 290 eastbound takes you through Elgin and Giddings to the town of Carmine where you turn right on Highway 458. In a couple of miles, you intersect Highway 237. Take a right and head southwest to reach Round Top and Warrenton.

Antiques 4From the southern part of Austin, you can head east on Highway 71 past the airport to Bastrop and Smithville. Once you reach La Grange, exit at Highway159.

Take a left under Highway 71 and head northeast. A few miles out of La Grange, Highway 159 makes a sharp right turn. That is the route to Fayetteville. If you continue straight, the road becomes Highway 237. That route leads you to Warrenton and Round Top.

If you’re coming from San Antonio, the best route is to come east on I-10 to Flatonia and take winding FM 609 to La Grange. It’s a pretty drive. In La Grange take a right on Business Route 71, cross the Colorado River, and go through town (being sure to admire the stately county courthouse on your left) to Highway 159. Take a left and follow it until it becomes Highway 237 a few miles before Warrenton.

No matter how you come, you’re going to run into some traffic—particularly in Warrenton and Round Top. The temptation to park illegally can be great, but don’t surrender to it. There are suitable locations for parking in all areas, so stay off the roads and out of private drives. You may be towed!

Most of all, relax. It may seem like a traffic jam on the big city freeway, but it’s not. Put on that laid-back country attitude and take your time. Be patient and courteous. Wave at people! Slow down! Get a life!

HOW DO I FIND MY WAY AROUND?

warrentonThe easiest way is use this guide or to subscribe to the Round Top Register. It’s only $9.95 per year for all four issues of the Register delivered via First Class Mail! Subscribe here. There’s a lot to know about this area, and the Register is entertaining and humorous to boot.

BEST OF SHOW

There are great buys everywhere. No one location has all the best of anything. However, some shows are generally known for having better merchandise.

The venues mentioned above, Miss Turney’s Creative Market and Folk Art Fair, the Frank’s Big Red Barn, and Marburger Farm rule the roost in terms of overall quality. If you are a serious collector, you don’t want to miss these shows. Due to the quality of their merchandise, often museum quality, the uninformed sometimes question dealers’ prices. However, if you are shopping the high end, it’s still possible to get a great bargain at the Round Top Antiques Fair.

Amie-and-Jolie-webOne of the newest locations – and among the most famous – is the new Junk Gypsy Store just outside Round Top on Hwy. 237 on the way to Warrenton.

Amie and Jolie Sikes, of the famed HGTV show are opening up a huge new store in their new Round Top home. You can learn more about hem in our exclusive interview with the whole Sikes family!

BARGAIN HUNTING

As with quality, bargains are where you find them. An antique sideboard with a market value of $3,500 is a bargain at $2,500. On the other hand, a replica of that same piece of furniture may be a bad deal at $300. It’s all relative.

Warrenton has a reputation for being the bargain hunter’s paradise. Because it has such a wide variety of products and quality, we have to agree. A good deal of the merchandise in Warrenton, particularly items sold outside the main indoor halls, would more rightly be called flea market goods.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of treasures to be found. It just means you may have to sift through a lot of marginal merchandise to find it. Every year a number of large institutional buyers, restaurant chains, decorators, etc., come early to Warrenton searching for goodies. They can’t all be wrong.

SHOPPING AROUND

Don’t make the mistake of skipping the area shops. “Antique Weekend” is the biggest sale of the year for the dealers and shopkeepers that stay around after the show.

In and around Round Top, there are several shops you don’t want to miss. We recommend D&T Antiques and Unique Antiques in Carmine. Vernon’s Antique Shop in Brenham is another good bet. They typically also take a booth at the Big Red Barn.

Opposite Round Top’s town square, browse through the Apothecary at Henkel Square. Henkel Square has been renovated recently. It’s a collection of antique buildings and beautifully landscaped. You don’t want to miss it.

WHERE TO EAT?

Now, down to serious business. How do you expect to keep your shopping skills honed to a fine edge if you don’t eat?

There are many good food vendors throughout the shows. The best are fundraisers for local organizations. At the Round Top Rifle Hall, you can get some awesome barbecue and brew. It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Rifle Association so eat hearty. Other such groups serve good food in Carmine, Warrenton, and Shelby.

Royers1It may come as a surprise, but tiny Round Top boasts a number of fine restaurants. Bud Royer’s famous Round Top Cafe has a scrumptious menu, and people from line up several deep on his front porch.

If you have to wait, no problem. Waiting on Bud’s porch is all part of the ambience. You can get on the “list” by calling or by going to his website: royersroundtopcafe.com.

Scotty and Friends is near Round Top’s town square and it’s popular with locals and visitors. Scotty’s is located at the corner of Bauer Rummel Road and Highway 237.

Our newest restaurant is Los Patrones Mexican Grill, which is across the street from the Los-Patrones-001town square. Their food is tasty and a visual treat. Their margaritas are so good that Jimmy Buffet is thinking of moving to Round Top.

Just down the road, a mile past Warrenton, is a place many locals favor. It’s called the Oaks Restaurant. Owner Lori Granum is pro who can really cook! Try her soups.

Over in Carmine J.W.’s Steakhouse (S. Hauptstrasse at Highway 290) is busy all the time, so plan on getting there early if you want a table.

On the way to and from Round Top, you will pass a number of choice eateries. One of our favorites is Must Be Heaven on the square in Brenham. If you’re coming from San Antonio, the perennial favorites in Schulenburg, Frank’s Restaurant at the intersection of Highway 77 and I-10, or the Oakridge Smokehouse on the opposite side of the interstate, and can take care of you.

In Sealy, folks like to dine at Tony’s Restaurant at I-10 and Highway 36. If you’re after barbeque, go just south of the same intersection to Hinze’s Bar-B-Que and tell them the Register sent you.

WHAT’S THE POINT?

Okay, why should you come to the boonies and drop your hard-earned cash on other people’s left over furniture? What’s so great about snatching up household implements tossed out or sold by rural families who were more interested in being up to date than in being preservationists?

What is it about having old things around that makes us feel good down in our bones?

Hold it right there! Now, mover your hand, reeeal slow-like....Of course, we don’t really know, but we’ll hazard a guess. Maybe it has something to do with when we were children.

After all, America has been a predominantly rural nation through most of its history. Very few of us look back more than a generation or two to find family members who worked the land or at least lived in a rural area. Many of us have pleasant memories of summer visits to a ranch or farm.

Even those of us descended from city folk must have genetic memory about old things that helps us remember an earlier, simpler, gentler time.

Perhaps the reason we treasure old things is that they remind us of when we were children and not subject to the harsh realities of the world.

Perhaps they take us back to a time when America itself was young, a time when things were made by hand and we had a more personal connection to our homes and ourselves.

If so, that seems like a pretty good reason to come to Round Top and buy something old that is new to us.

Drive carefully on the way home.

photo by: Loyal O.A.K.

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