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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"I'm going to Warrenton..."

In southeast Texas, when someone says this, what they mean, as nice as can be expressed, is: I'm going on an epic shopping adventure, where the bluebonnets are in bloom and everything's cool and find something I do not even know that I need until I see it. And you're stuck doing whatever, that is not near as fun or cool or envious. Nana nana poo poo.

Warrenton looks the same as always... but you can't park anywhere but in a real parking lot! Don't ask me why I make that point...

My resistance broke down while on a business jaunt in Brenham, and just miles away from the huge retail extravaganza, I meandered over to take in the semi-annual Round Top-Warrenton-Shelby-Etc. antique and you name it marathon. I remember the first shows at the Rifleman's Hall in Round Top. It was the domain of legends like Ima Hogg, Faith Bybee and Emma Lee Turney... it has grown so big that it takes DAYS to see it... if you want to walk that much, and you want to spend all of your money...

Where else could you buy this fabulous 8 foot stuffed alligator? [priced at $2500]

The odor of barbecue and Texas country music waft through the canopies as you gaze stupidly upon every conceivable thing made on earth. Whatever you are looking for, or not looking for, it is out there somewhere... Hundreds of acres of crushed limestone parking lots, silver tarped booths overflowing with the overflow of our culture, and then some. Whereas it was originally an humble antique fair, that grew into several big tent shows, and then pastures became overnight tent cities with thousands of slick dealers from all over the country... now it is dozens of separate shows, and charming old dance halls like Zapp Hall and Renke Hall in Warrenton are smothered by all the commercialization. It is too much. Like the Eagles sang, call something paradise, kiss it good bye.

Charming ruins like this made Warrenton the poor man's Round Top. But the charm can barely come up for air, when the throng is in full swing.

But amazingly, there are some great vendors and some even better deals to be had. You just have to walk really fast to make up for the time it takes to go from one worthy dealer to the next, as they are not next to each other. Now you have to wade through acres and acres of mostly salvaged architectural elements, whole circus tents of bling, sizable pockets of African, European and Mexican imports and gagmeI'msorry, shabby chic showrooms. But around the next corner may actually be a real art, antique or a collectibles dealer.

(Note the contemporary red steel bench/scupture, just what ACBV needs to work towards on its BenchMark project!) I made some wonderful purchases right across from the old Zapp Hall. Look for Ridley Stallings' delightful wood and artifact constructions, in a little hut just to the north of Zapp.

After visiting a nice quiet cowboy-theme yard called "Cowboy Corner," just south of Warrenton for about a half hour, (That's a very long time for me) I walked around the town proper for around four hours... walked pretty fast, covered most of Warrenton, saw perhaps a third of it, looked intently at around ten places, and purchased from just three booths. Everybody was ready to deal. And yes, it was worth it. Joseph Nye of Midland gave me some great deals on southwestern antiques. But just getting out there on such a beautiful day was enough. I actually made some excellent buys for the store... You'll have to come see my new stuff at Blues Alley!

And if you find yourself wanting to boast "I'm going to Warrenton," you better hurry, it will all wind down this weekend.

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