This week is the return in full of the Brimfield Antique Shows after over a year’s hiatus due to COVID. Like all small shows and large-scale events, there remains some trepidation about what this year’s Brimfield shows will look like and who and how many will attend. If the success of some recent shows is any indication, both dealers and antiquers have little to worry about, including the weather.
Memorial Day Weekend in the northeast was by all accounts a weather anomaly yet antiquers and enthusiasts turned out in record numbers at the Rhinebeck Antique Show, Stormville Airport Antique Show & Flea Market, and the new Brimfield North Country Antique Show in New Hampshire, despite temperatures in the low 40s and torrential rain all weekend. I was one of those crazy people who braved the elements for the opportunity to get back out there – weather be damned! During what would have been the May Brimfield antique week, Brimfield Auctions Acres, the only show field open that week, saw a tremendous turnout of show-goers and dealer participants for their extended, four-day show. I hear the same report from show promoters all over the country who are thankful for the support the re-opening of their show has received from their dealers and guests.
This re-opening of antique shows and markets has not been easy for show organizers. Some have shows scheduled at venues not yet ready to re-open for public events. Others are confronted by the requirements and limitations still in place by state and local Board of Health COVID regulations. With the loss of a year’s revenue, show organizers are also challenged to meet and finance new mandated changes to their venue as well as fund their previous level of advertising to help promote their show to the public, ensuring a bigger turnout. Further hampering the full return of antique shows this year is a nationwide shortage of truck rentals that will keep some dealers home for want of a way to literally bring their goods to market. There is also reticence, especially among older dealers and show-goers, to be out in large crowds, especially now that mask mandates have been rescinded but in the rise of a new COVID variant. And to top it all off, show organizers and all participants are impacted by a nationwide labor shortage, which affects everything and everyone, from the tent and booth rental companies and foodservice providers that work with show organizers and dealers to the local businesses – hotels, restaurants, and retailers – that add to the experience of traveling to shows.
Like everything else these days, from dining indoors again to returning to the theater and traveling to fairs and events, things are different now and maybe for some time to come. Some long-time dealers may not be at this year’s show, but new dealers are excited about the opportunity to meet you. You may have to walk a little more to cover a field or venue in our new socially distanced world but after months of couch-surfing, it’s time to stretch your legs. You may be getting your ‘fix’ online but nothing beats a live experience, and the ability to touch and learn about the things that interest you. If you are comfortable going out again, please consider how hard everyone is working behind the scenes to keep you safe and make their return shows a new experience to remember as we re-connect with people and the things we love to do. Hope to see you out there this summer!