It’s that time of year when we spend countless hours looking for one-of-a-kind pieces to transform old spaces into new and improved sanctuaries with a fresh palette of colors and updated furniture.
When you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind item that transforms a nondescript area into something really spectacular, put on your walking shoes and head for Texas’ largest open-air antique venue, The Original Round Top Antiques Fair. This glorious, vast mecca of antiques and treasures rises up in a phalanx of tents, barns and dilapidated buildings of varying age, all swarming with dealers and vendors coming together with one common goal: to display and sell wares of every size, type and description to thousands of discerning shoppers.
Round Top is a sleepy village of less than 100 residents nestled along FM 237, amid bluebonnets and bucolic acres of Washington and Fayette County pasture land.
You can’t miss the big red barn, wherein a small entrance fee gains you free parking and access to some 30,000 square feet of world-class antiques, all with porters to take things to your car or help you arrange shipping. Somewhere in the middle of the road, you can also turn slightly north into quaint Carmine and find booth after booth of treasures, whether you’re looking for that one missing piece of your grandmother’s wedding china, or a replacement glass facet of your newly arrived European chandelier.
Remember sunscreen, forget the heels and plan accordingly. This is one of those Texas commerce and trade events that separate newbies from the blackbelt shoppers, so browse carefully, bargain smartly and prepare well ahead of time. This is not the time to break in new shoes or fussy clothing, because Texas weather can turn on a dime, and layers will be a key consideration, especially if the skies part for a frog-strangling rain or mild spring mornings turn into suddenly muggy and hot afternoons.
If you have a buggy or conveyance of some sort to drag your purchases around, keep in mind no cow pasture makes for a level shopping floor, and you may not want to jolt along for miles with a heavy whoop-de-do.
Even a shopping army marches on its stomach. The only things more enticing than the great bargains to be had are the aromas of delicious comestibles to be found everywhere; after all, who haggles successfully on an empty stomach? Stop by good ol’ Bud Royer’s famous Royers Round Top Café in downtown Round Top or at Zapp Hall, put your name on the list and soon you’ll be able to tuck into the best fried chicken, the juiciest pork tenderloin or Bud’s Mash-up potatoes.
If you’ve entered the fray at Marburger, with its 350 vendors who arrange their inventory like the pages of a great home magazine, don’t forget to take a breather every now and then, and maybe look for the fresh, icy homemade lemonade stands and purveyors of chicken-on-a-stick. If you’re hankering for a plate of barbecue or just a cold glass of wine, someone is selling that too.