Round Top’s Marburger Farm Antique Show is a favorite of many who travel from near and far to visit this Texas attraction once or twice a year. Our MILIEU team loves trekking through the Marburger Farm tents and we were eager to learn more about the history of Marburger and what continues to draw loyal friends and followers. MILIEU’s Editor-at-Large, Shannon Bowers, spoke to Ashley Ferguson, CEO, to find out more about Marburger and what to expect this October.
NEW Marburger Farm Antique Show Dates:
October 27 – October 32
Briefly describe the history of Marburger Farm Antique Show and how it relates to Round Top.
Ed Gage and John Sauls, long time Round Top area antique dealers, opened the gates to Marburger Farm Antique Show in 1997. Their goal, and ours to this day, is to create an environment where the most daring and creative antiques and art dealers have the time and space and freedom to thrive, and where shoppers can experience the very best Round Top can offer. Since the Marsh Family purchased the show in 2007, we’ve worked hard to build up the Marburger Farm location as a joy in the heart of Round Top—beautiful, easy, fun and as convenient as a former cow pasture can be! We love Round Top and we are active in the local community all year. We have been fortunate to garner a lot of publicity and media exposure, which has built a broader shopper community. That helps the shows in Round Top and the entire community.
What makes Marburger Farm Antique Show unique and why is it such a sought after attraction at Round Top?
Marburger is as close to a European antiques market as you can get in the United States. It’s not that the merchandise is all European, it’s that it’s all fresh, gathered for that show and all set out at one exciting moment. As one of our dealers has said, “Marburger has the flavor of antiques fair in the south of France. The tents go up, the dealers put out their fresh wares and the people rush in.”
Marburger is also an event. There’s anticipation, beauty, and excitement every time. After the last show, New York designer Mark Cunningham noted that he loved that all the tents opened at once. “People get in from all sides. It was a thrill. It was fun.”
Top-quality exhibitors are drawn to Marburger because of a loyal and passionate customer community. Things sell. At every price range, shoppers come back and buy again and again. We feel that we have the best customers of any show in the world and we are grateful to them.
Here’s a little secret about why the merchandise and displays at Marburger are so over-the-top amazing. Finding the best merchandise all over the planet, getting it to Texas, setting it up in the dust, the heat, the fire ants—well, it’s not so easy. The average person could not do it. It requires exceptional resilience, daring, and resourcefulness. The same dealers who can do this also buy and display merchandise with more adventure, daring and flair. Whatever the category—Americana, Mid-Century, Continental, art, lighting, silver—at Marburger Farm it’s going to be cutting-edge and exciting, not conventional or boring.
Describe a typical day at Marburger Farm Antique Show.
On opening day, Tuesday October 27, the gates will open at 8 A.M. for easy parking and the Tuesday Tailgate complimentary continental breakfast. There will be book signings with design authors and a tiny taste of shopping. At exactly 10 A.M. the bell rings, all the barriers come down, and shoppers sprint to see their favorite dealers first.
Who will you see? Groups of friends, multiple generations of families, famous actors, TV personalities, news anchors, bloggers, top designers—and plenty of dogs on a leash.
By midday, select from the many food options and enjoy a few minutes under the Marburger Cafe open-air pavilion. Put your name in the Marburger red boxes for a daily cash prize and then get back out there! It takes a full day or more to cover the whole show. Stop by the on-site shipper, Distinguished Transport, if you need shipping or delivery. Wear comfortable shoes.
By late afternoon, you’ve earned a few minutes in the Marburger Bar for something refreshing. Reflect with your friends about how much ground you’ve covered and what amazing things you are taking home. A tip: come back tomorrow and see what fresh items dealers will put out tonight.
Describe how relationships are a key aspect at Marburger Farm Antique Show.
There’s a lot of love at Marburger Farm—among exhibitors, staff, show owners, porters and shoppers who come again and again. Shoppers from all over the world become friends and part of the Marburger family. It’s fun to see the camaraderie between everyone. It’s a big reunion every time.
You have to understand that dealers are in their booths together for setup and for the show for nine or ten days, twice a year. They help each other. New dealers here are astounded by the support and welcome that they receive. Marburger may have the highest quality antiques of any big show, but it’s not a snooty place. Our motto is “No Snoots allowed!”
We also appreciate those in the media and the local community who have helped us to improve and set our standards high. We have deep relationships with two charities that Marburger supports: The Brookwood Community and Dwell with Dignity. From the Sherriff’s Department officers on horseback to the fabulous and creative food and beverage vendors to the local residents who join every show as porters, parking attendants, show staff and more, it takes lots of positive relationships to pull off 43 acres of Marburger Farm.
How has Marburger Farm Antique Show changed over the years, due to its great success and popularity?
Marburger has continued to grow over the past 23 years in terms of everything. It grew from one tent of dealers in the mud to nine huge tents and a small town of trucked-in early Texas buildings. It grows every year in terms of media exposure. It has grown in wonderful amenities to make the whole experience better and more enjoyable: so many cool food and drink vendors, air-conditioned refreshing spots, real restrooms, book-signings and special events.
We constantly work on improving the show with the help of a team of Authenticity Advisors to keep up quality, value and authenticity. We also seek out new dealers who can bring something unique and diverse, especially younger antiques and art dealers. We’ve got everything from fine French furniture to museum-quality art to industrial and architectural to the best of the 1980s. This mix helps the show stay cutting edge and vibrant.
How are Marburger Farm Antique Show and its vendors adapting to the current Covid-19 conditions and what exciting new things can we anticipate for the reopening/fall show?
We are planning full steam ahead, signing up long-time favorite dealers and exciting new ones. Marburger is essentially an outdoor venue under huge open tents. The tent walls will be up with lots of fresh air and we will adapt layouts if needed to provide even more open space. We will also have additional hand-washing stations, sanitizers, and continual cleaning every day. We are looking at many options to make the show as safe and careful as possible.
As a small business, we’re rallying behind other small businesses and shining a light on our extraordinary 350 dealers. Look for lots of social media sneak peeks and photographs of merchandise all week long.
What’s exciting is a new sense of gratitude that we will all feel at being able to see one another after a year since the last show. We get calls every day: shoppers and exhibitors are so eager and thankful for the joy that a fabulous antiques show like Marburger can provide. Yes, there will be special events, brand new trends, and the Tuesday Tailgate Breakfast on opening day. But it’s the gratitude and excitement that we feel in a new way. In 2020 we have all come to deeply appreciate the things and people that bring us joy.
Learn more at roundtop-marburger.com
For more Industry Profiles, click here.
INTERVIEW BY SHANNON BOWERS
Images courtesy of Marburger Farm Antique Show