The bluebonnets will be in full bloom for spring Antiques Week, which draws buyers and sellers from around the world to this tiny Texas town
What began 49 years ago as a major antique show designed to raise money for the preservation of “downtown” Round Top, Texas, Antiques Week has morphed into more than two weeks of nonstop buying and selling of everything from five-dollar rusted tractor seats to half-million dollar paintings across 25 miles of Texas two-lane blacktop encompassing seven communities, ensconcing 6,000 dealers in 60 venues and drawing more than 100,000 shoppers every spring. The sprawling event in the tiny town (population 90) known in the antiques trade simply as “Round Top” draws antique and vintage-ware dealers from around the world to this sleepy patch of Texas real estate located midway between Houston and Austin, just in time to catch the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush wildflowers in full bloom. This year, the first dealers will open March 17, with the full force of sellers setting up shop from March 26-April 2.
Getting Your Bearings
There is no single organizing body for Antiques Week. It is a collection of about 60 individually run events that coincide in the same vicinity over a two-week period in the spring and fall. Most activities are located along Texas Hwy. 237, encompassing the towns of Round Top, Warrenton, Shelby, Fayetteville and Carmine. Independently published, The Show Daily is a 100-page full-color guide to the events, with features and overflowing with ads. Plus, its pullout maps showing virtually every dealer’s location are indispensible. Pick one up at your first stop or find it online at showdaily.us.
The Big Red Barn
This is where it all started in 1968, and in the intervening years the Big Red Barn on Hwy. 237 five miles north of Round Top has gotten even bigger, including the iconic Red Barn and now the Continental Tent. Both are ticketed venues with sales commencing on March 27. The Big Red Barn is home to a wonderful mix of early antiques, English antiques, country, fine glass, and much more. Plus it is air-conditioned for shopping comfort. The Continental Tent is located just steps away and contains fine antique furnishings from England, Italy and France as well as decorative art pieces and paintings.
Another not-to-be-missed venue is the Marburger Farm, which attracts 350 high-end dealers to its location at 2248 S. Hwy. 237, just outside Round Top. Marburger Farm is special because it caters to the interior designer, the collector, the treasure hunter as well as casual shoppers. They come from the world over to its sprawling venue encompassing 12 historic buildings and nine huge tents. This marks the 20th anniversary for Marburger Farm, which begins sales on March 28. This is a ticketed venue.
The Blue Hills buildings are visible from Hwy. 237, with statues of rearing stallions marking the entrance to the 85,000 square-foot facilities. Co-owned by Kansas City native Mike Peters, Blue Hills attracts dealers with eyes for the decorative including Gwen McClure (owner of Bottoms Up in Kansas City) and her sister Teri Elliott, who operate French by Design together. “This is the best show we’ve ever had,” Elliott said of their 2016 experience at Round Top. Rick Ingenthon, co-owner with Blake Craghead of Woodson Antiques in Raymore, will be represented in the Blue Hills venue again this year and later at Marburger Farm. “Round Top has always been very successful for us,” Ingenthon said. “It’s a great road trip this time of year.” Free admission.
The Junk Gypsies
The popular cable TV pickers Aimee and Jolie Sikes, the Junk Gypsies, maintain their “world headquarters” Junk Gypsies Store outside Round Top on Hwy. 237. It’s a good place to take a break from shopping, sit back, enjoy a Texas beer and listen to some live music under the shade of some large oak trees. The duo also sponsors the annual Junk-O-Rama Prom, this year set for March 30 at the Junk Gypsy tent at Zapp Hall. Everybody wears their vintage best, and the band will play from a stage made from some recent gypsy finds.
Zapp Hall and The Fields
The town of Warrenton becomes entirely enveloped by hundreds of antique and vintage dealers. Virtually every building is filled with vintage items for sale. The centrally located Zapp Hall attracts a bevy of vintage enthusiasts and repurposers to its rambling floors and will open March 24.
Pretty much all the available space in and around Warrenton will be occupied by dealers—acres and acres of them—known collectively as “The Fields.” The first dealers will be arriving on March 17. This is where shoppers will find plenty of affordable items as well as that rare, but always sought-after, diamond in the rough. Keep your eyes peeled.
Where to Stay
If you didn’t book a nearby hotel or B&B or adorable vacation rental many moons ago, your pickings may be slim. But cross your fingers and fill out the online form on the Round Top Chamber of Commerce website, which is sent to dozens of local innkeepers, who may have a vacancy or a cancellation.
Otherwise, your best bet may be to book one of the many chain motels on the outskirts of Houston or Austin and make easy day trips into Round Top. Or you might get lucky at one of these near Round Top:
The Ant Street Inn
This boutique hotel is in the heart of Brenham with 15 guest rooms. It’s filled with Victorian antiques to get you in the mood. Rooms from $150/night. 107 W. Commerce St., 979-836-7393
Brendan Manor Bed & Breakfast
Five rooms in the historic Bradshaw/Killough home in La Grange are appointed with antiques and reproductions appropriately. Rooms from $129/night. 345 E. Travis, La Grange, 866-658-1100
Hampton Inn & Suites
Comfortable clean rooms, hot breakfast included. Microwaves and refrigerators in each room. Free WiFi. From $104/night.
Located just off Hwy. 209 in Brenham.
Heaven’s Gate Bed & Breakfast
Rooms in the main house and cottage of a working ranch outside La Grange and a barn to store large purchases. Rooms from $159/night.
On State Hwy. 77, 10 miles north northeast of town. 281-543-4131
Prairie Wind Farm
Accommodations in the main farmhouse and in the smokehouse. Rooms from $120/night. 4507 Havermann Rd., Carmine, 979-278-3208
Where to Dine
Fine dining is not something that exists around Round Top during Antiques Week. Look for that in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. But you can still find some honest to goodness Texas and Tex/Mex repasts at many different locations in the vicinity. Here are a few suggestions:
Wood-fired pizzas top the menu with lighter salads and sandwiches filling out the board. Craft beers and wine are available.
204 E. Mill St., Round Top
Brazos Belle Restaurant
Quaint fixture with a country vibe offering refined New American and French recipes, plus wine and beer.
600 N. Main St., Burton
Carmine Dance Hall
German immigrants made a big impact in Texas. Enjoy traditional German barbecue, including locally made sausage, fresh pork and beef, and homemade desserts amidst the bustling shopping venue.
30 N. Hauptstrasse, Carmine
Los Patrones Mexican Grill
This family owned Tex/Mex restaurant offers everything you’d want in a Mexican-inspired meal.
102 S. Washington St., Round Top 979-249-5696
Located on the square in the heart of Round Top proper, this is the steak place as well as the place for seafood, that is, shrimp and grits. It’s Texas cuisine at its down-home best.
105 Main St., Round Top