On The Road

Surviving Texas Antiques Week and that overblown stripper furor: A practical guide to the tacky wonders

Surviving Texas Antiques Week & that overblown strippers controversy

Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide April 2015 Big Boy
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 showercap hanger
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 rugs and lamps
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Pile of doors
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 lawn art
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 antique treehouse?
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Punkie's place
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 skulls
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 glass & alien
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 doll heads
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 car
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Car desk
Photo by Tarra Gaines
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide April 2015 Big Boy
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 showercap hanger
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 rugs and lamps
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Pile of doors
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 lawn art
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 antique treehouse?
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Punkie's place
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 skulls
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 glass & alien
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 doll heads
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 car
Tarra Gaines Antique Week beginner's guide March 2015 Car desk

Having lived in Texas for half my life, I tend to think I’ve seen it all. Yet every once in a while I’m again surprised by whole segments, subcultures and extravaganzas I never knew existed.

Recently I had such a reminder of my occasional event ignorance when I discovered Texas Antiques Week. After asking myself how have I never heard of this thing, I drove about a hour and a half west of Houston to explore this remarkable collusion of fine antiques and marvelous junk for myself.

I survived and have returned to answer all your questions about the beautiful and tacky wonders of Antiques Week.

Antiques Week, huh? What is this thing, and is that name accurate?

Antiques Week, though some people and sites seem to call it Antique Week or Antique Weekend is a loose collection of antique shows and fairs, all with separate names, that are mostly situated along HWY 237 between Burton on 290 and La Grange on 71 in the towns of Carmine, Round Top and Warrenton, with additional venues close by in Fayetteville and Shelby.

 If you are a DIY-er looking to make a chandelier out an old air conditioning roof vent, this is the weekend for you. 

Antiques Week runs for two weeks in many of these towns every fall and spring. Like the meadows of bluebonnets that will wave at you along your drive, the individual sites and shows bloom in increments, but all the antiques will be flowering this first week in April into Easter weekend.

That’s a lot of area to cover. Where should I begin?

You’re probably not going to be able to see everything, if you’re only going for the day. Pick and choose what kind of antiquing/junk surveying experience you want to have.

Some of these shows are housed in picturesque barns and dance halls, while some just seem to be temporary villages of white tents set up in cow pastures. From my one-day survey of Great Antique Road (aka HWY 237), I found the Carmine shows to be a good quick introduction. The Round Top fairs appeared to be a bit more organized and genteel, while Warrenton is about a mile long stretch of tents along both sides of the two-lane highway.

Warrenton’s shows seemed perfect for those collectors with brave and wandering souls. Some tents were a hodgepodge of items, in no discernible order, that will be quickly purchased and then replaced with new objects within a day. Other tents had a more thematic or specialized decor, like the one I dubbed Moroccan Lamp Bazaar or Big Boy’s Retirement Home. One eye-pleaser looked a little like Alice in Wonderland’s Quinceañera, as party-planned by Willy Wonka.

Who should go?

If you are a DIY-er looking to make a chandelier out an old air conditioning roof vent, this is the weekend for you. If you’re a collector of any kind of glass, pottery, or gas station sign memorabilia, you’ll probably find it here.

Ready to folk art out your lawn with a colorful iron garden? Head on down. If you’re an independent horror filmmaker, looking for inspiration, just stop by that one Warrenton tent specializing in decapitated doll heads and stare into their windows-to-hell eyes.

Even if you don’t plan on shopping and just want to be amazed at the crazy shit other people will buy, this is your antique fest.

Be warned this is not a sedate shopping experience. You’re going to need to hike, or at least scooter along, to truly appreciate the chaos.

What should I bring?

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. GPS tag your car because you’re probably going to forget where it is. Serious shoppers should bring a sturdy rolling cart. There are entrance fees for some of the indoor venues, and you might need cash for parking in other places. Arrive early on the weekend. I’ve been told by one veteran vender that HWY 237 becomes a parking lot by midmorning.

Most important, bring a shopping support person to keep you balanced.

What type of shopping buddy is right for me?

Bring that friend who knows you well enough to cut you off or urge you forward. For example, I’m a dreamer shopper who always wants to see everything, just in case there’s something better just up the road. Since I know this about myself, I brought my mom who is more of a “We’re never getting back here, Tarra, so buy it now” pragmatist.

 Even if you don’t plan on shopping and just want to be amazed at the crazy shit other people will buy, this is your antique fest. 

This philosophy is very useful at Antiques Weekend because the sites are enormous, and you’re never again going to find that one booth selling a giant, blue hippo head drinking fountain once you pass it.

If, however, you are easily persuaded, you probably should bring that blunt friend who will ask where the hell exactly in your two bedroom townhouse you plan on placing a blue hippo head water fountain.

While this antiquing sounds amazing, I really wanted to see some strippers this weekend.

This year for the first time, you can do both. While Antiques Week gives rise to some impressive parties including the traditional Junk Gypsy Junk-o-Rama Prom on Thursday, this spring brings some naked controversy. The Chippendale Dancers of the American Cowboy Las Vegas Revue will be — tastefully I’m sure — shaking their everything in the Little House on the Hill tent in Warrenton. The ladies-only ticketed event will be Friday and Saturday night, but since this is Easter weekend and the show will be across the street from the one church in town (though in a small town like Warrenton everything is going to be either across or on the same side of the street as the church) this particular kind of junk apprising is making national news.

So whatever you’re seeking, from doll heads to decorative doors to car desks to nearly naked toned bods, Antiques Week has something for everyone.