This week signaled the crescendo of the spring antiques shows that transform the Round Top area into the epicenter of internationally acclaimed antiquing. Since 1968, the twice-annual event has grown from a one-tent sale into a miles-long extravaganza. As we’ve noted in our comprehensive Round Top guide, it can all be more than a little overwhelming, which is why we decided to partner with Hotel Ella, a historic boutique hotel in Austin, to lead a field trip to “the biggest treasure hunt in Texas,” as we like to call it.
The day began with pastries and endless cups of coffee in the parlor at Hotel Ella. After fueling up, a group of around fifty (many of whom were making their maiden voyage to this antiques mecca) boarded the bus. The first stop was Marburger, where more than 350 dealers from across the world sell their well-curated wares twice a year. Then it was on to “shop the fields” in neighboring Warrenton, particularly Excess I and II, two warehouses packed with industrial and architectural salvage. The day of shopping ended at nearby compound Rancho Pillow, a colorful twenty-acre destination unto itself that celebrates the week with a multi-course Feast in the Field dinner each night.
The fair ends on Saturday, so you still have a couple of shopping days left, but go ahead and save the date for the fall shows, which kick off at the end of September. Here are some of the highlights from our day out in the fields.
Before you antique, you must eat! Road trippers bound for the fair started their morning with pastries from Hotel Ella’s spread.
With a departure time of 10:30 a.m. looming, the bus arrived and everyone climbed aboard. Travel editor Jordan Breal shared the history behind Texas Antiques Week along with a few key shopping tips.
Photo ops abounded as everyone waited to enter the Marburger Show (tickets $15 each). Lisa Hickey snapped photos of her friends, fellow road trippers, by the bus.
Each tent at Marburger is lettered, making navigation easy, especially given the spacious two-row layout inside. Katie Kime, one of the road trippers, found just what she never knew she needed in Tent F.
Each antiques dealer has their own special way of merchandising the goods in his or her booth, and every space takes on a life of its own.
Oil paintings in various kinds of ornate vintage frames are popular plunder in all the tents.
Shopper Anne Campbell takes a break in a booth where the hand-dyed textiles just happened to match her dress.
These vintage prints, uncovered in an Atlanta antiques dealer’s booth, date back to the late 1800s.
You could spend hours digging through the seemingly infinite bins of vintage cutlery.
Many shoppers use some sort of wagon to wheel their finds around as they explore the fields.
Fellow shopper Jennifer Rose Smith found a treasure in the Perspective Design and Antiques booth: a vintage display case went home with her.
Also from Perspective Design, which is based in New Mexico, was this unique find: a thirties-era knickknack set.
The booth where this display resided was a fine china lover’s dream.
European antiques and chandeliers are piled, propped up, and stacked everywhere, filling almost every tent.
Heading back onto the bus, the road trippers’ next stop was neighboring Warrenton to explore Excess I and II, for a less curated (and often less expensive) flea market–style shopping experience.
When we arrived at Excess, shopper (and experienced Round Top visitor) Shannon Eddings led the group to her favorite rug dealer's tent, Turkish Carpets, which is located at the Northgate Field in Warrenton. Many left with their first purchase of the day.
Photography by Wynn Myers
Clare Zinnecker, Jessie Katz, Jordan Fronk, Camille Styles, Anne Campbell, and Jordan Breal on the hunt in a booth at Excess.
Hans, an Excess vendor who hails from France, stocks his space in the fields with a seemingly endless array of lights, mirrors, sculptures, and other sorts of interesting artifacts.
Textiles in any color or pattern you could imagine were in abundance around every turn during this leg of the trip.
This cacti nook stopped all the shoppers in their shopping tracks.
One of the road trippers, Emily Chandler, is a recent transplant to Austin from Memphis.
Our last stop of the day was a short drive down the road to Austinite Sheila Youngblood’s retreat, Rancho Pillow. Each night of the Marburger Antiques Fair, she hosts a Feast in the Field dinner, with a rotating lineup of star chefs.
Chefs Rene Ortiz and Laura Sawicki, of Launderette, along with their staff prepared a seven-course meal over an open fire pit that was built just for the occasion.
Emily Waldmann held court by the fire pit where Ortiz and his team were cooking. The turquoise 1950 Studebaker truck is one of the first things you see upon arrival at the Rancho.
Happy hour kicked off at the tiki bar as guests arrived for the feast at five.
The Rancho teepee, which is air-conditioned and houses a king size bed, is a popular hideaway for guests on the property.
Sheila Youngblood, the owner of Rancho Pillow (second from left), chatted with each guest and gave tours of the property, which was once her family’s personal retreat. At first Youngblood opened her home to musicians as a place to write music and then decided to share it with the rest of the world last year.
Youngblood styles the table for each feast with tabletop pieces from her personal collection.
Ortiz and Sawicki wowed guests with a multi-course family-style dinner of suckling pig, jerk chicken, beef tenderloin, and ash-roasted root vegetables followed by arugula-mint cake for dessert.
Performing for dinner guests on the back of a decorated trailer were the Heart Collectors, from the Gold Coast of Australia.
Jordan Fronk, Lauren Greenberg, and Chanel Dror enjoy cocktails during the golden hour.
Bluebonnets were blooming in full swing everywhere you looked.