Spring in Texas is truly a wonder to behold. If it was like this year round, truly everyone would live here. Alas, it is not and Spring also means the hotness is just around the corner, but somehow that only manages to make this glory weather that much more enjoyable.
On top of the weather- it is also wildflower season out in the country! We had the MOST wonderful weekend at our farm doing all the things with the kids, including the obligatory wildflower photoshoots.
I can’t believe how happy the most basic mom tendencies makes me. Driving down Texas highways this time of year you’ll see family after family pooping on bluebonnets (link is totally SFW and completely hilarious). It can’t be helped. My mom did it with me when I was little:
And now it’s my turn!
And I loved every. second. of it.
Another fun rite of Spring in these parts is the Round Top Antiques Fair. I have been going for years, and even more so in the past few as it’s all pretty close to our farm. I went out yesterday for a quick run-through some of my favorite spots, and I thought I would give y’all a little info on my itinerary. To be clear, I am not an expert antiquer. I’m not a junk gypsy. There are guides on guides out there from people who live and breathe this scene, I am at best an appreciative interloper.
I usually drive out 290 from Houston, and hit up the following main destinations along 237. Most places open around 8/9 am and I try to start early and work my way through as much in a day as I can. Here are my stops in geographical order along 237.
I found a pair of blue & white urns that I use for utensils and my majolica hen box at Big Red Barn last year, and the pair of bread boards and silver tray from La Bahia.
La Bahia: More reasonably priced, I have actually found some good deals here- but don’t let the more flea-market appearance fool you, it’s not “cheap”. They have a great blue & white vendor in the barn that comes every year, and a range of country style furnishings, dishes, kitchen wears, vintage toys & accessories.
Big Red Barn: I have heard people aren’t in love with Big Red Barn for various reasons- here is why I always pay them a visit. Air conditioning. Kidding, sort of. The barn itself is air-conditioned, has clean bathrooms, and many repeat vendors every year. It is pricey, but I like knowing I can count on finding certain things there if I am looking for them. They have a few great Majolica vendors that I always enjoy, and a nice assortment of fine furnishings and curiosities. I really enjoy the vendors in the tent as well, and have had my best finds there each of my past few seasons.
Blue Hill: People LOVE Blue Hill, and I appreciate it, but I never really find anything there- though to be honest I usually am on a pretty specific mission and don’t buy much anywhere. I think it is worth the stop because it is completely pleasant and has a big range in selection from shmancy french antiques to fun, junky garden items
McLaren’s: I stopped in McLaren’s yesterday for the first time, and I really liked their vibe. They had some good music playing, and an interesting mix of (mostly British) architectural salvage, furnishings, and accessories. I especially appreciated how they grouped their collections- merchandising understandably isn’t a huge priority for most dealers, but it helped getting to see like items together.
Arbors: To be honest, I hit a real low point here yesterday when I had not appropriately hydrated/nourished myself so I can’t speak much to the show as I pretty much just sat with my face in a fan under their food tent- but Trudy’s food truck parked there put the pep back in my step. This is across from the Paul Mitchell venue, and if you are stopping in one it’s worth visiting the other.
Paul Mitchell: This place is massive, but not too packed. Venders actually have some room to spread out which makes it easier to see their wares. There were some really well curated shops, and more big items like rugs, lighting, architectural salvage etc. I’m pretty pleased with my “Pete’s Lunch” sign I found.
Round Top: The town itself is adorable and bustling with temporary tents set up for venders, as well as their permanent shops that turn it out for the festival. I usually don’t stop in the town itself since our farm is so close I can shop their year-round stores whenever, and I tend to prioritize the venders in town for the festival. The town is so charming though, and if you are coming in from out of town and have a few days you should definitely dedicate some time to exploring.
One of my favorite Marburger finds- three fair flags I purchased a few years ago
Image by Lesley Unruh for One Kings Lane
Marburger: This is the big one- I think- to most people. It is certainly the biggest temporary set up with 9 giant tents surrounding 12 smaller historic buildings all full of antiques dealers from around the world. To me it’s the biggest “scene”, and I enjoy the people watching as much as the shopping. You could spend an entire day here, and while I maintain there are still some deals to be found, it is definitely more high end. It has everything from junktiquey accessories, to super shmancy french chandeliers, and I have enjoyed seeing more modern dealers come in and mix it up in recent years. You have to pay to get into Marburger- FYI
The Compound: Down just a bit further from Marburger, I always try to end my day at The Compound. It’s definitely the chicest set-up on the trail, and usually has some live music to enjoy in their food courtyard. The Compound is a great resource for decorators, their rug vender in particular had some gems yesterday, and they have a nice mix of different furnishing styles. They always bring in interesting new venders, events, and showhouses too!
Warranton: This is more of an honorable mention as I have not really explored much in Warranton, but it always looks SO festive. If I make another Round Top trip this festival I am going to dedicate a goodly part of my day to checking it out.
Now if you are reading this thinking there is no way someone can really hit all of these in a day, I would agree. As I said upfront, I am not a dedicated hunter. I move through quickly and decisively and surely leave lots of treasure behind, but I love making time to talk to venders and hear their stories, learn new things, and perhaps most of all- people watch. This is just my route along the main drag on 237 you should plan to dedicate a few days and venture off the path to explore new hidden spots that pop up every year.
Marburger officially opens today- so if you are heading out there, happy hunting!
The weather varies, but I usually wear jeans, boots or tennis shoes (whatever you are comfortable walking/standing in for hours, and getting muddy trudging through fields) and a flowey top (something cool that doesn’t show dirt/sweat too easily)
Cross body purse with plenty of cash (enough to pay to enter/park at certain places, tipping guys who carry heavy items to your car, food/water, and some places will give you a better deal to pay in cash), credit cards, chapstick, sunscreen, a portable phone charger, sunglasses etc.
I drive out in an SUV and bring a few blankets and big market bags I have collected over the years, but I usually leave them in the car as most venders have bags at this point and it is a pain to carry. Most places have shipping arrangements available, but I always plan to carry home my finds.
Water & Snacks are available at most places, but it’s usually pretty heavy fair food so pack a picnic if you want to eat lighter.