Antiques fair hopes to bring thousands to area
Folks who enjoy the renowned antiques festival in Liberty should circle the first weekend in October on their calendars.
According to Mark Scott, director of Thomasville Tourism, an antiques and certified collectibles fair is coming to the corner of Davidson and Randolph counties. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4-5, tents will set up on N.C. 62 in the field next to Smoky T's for a rain-or-shine event. Admission will be set at $5 per person.
Promotion for the fair has led Scott on a statewide venture to recruit vendors. Several from Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Clemmons are expected to be among the participants at the antiques fair patterned after the one in Liberty, which brings visitors from 25 states across the nation to the Piedmont.
"Because of our location right off off I-85, you can reach 4.2 million within a 90-minute drive of here," Scott reasons. "From a tourism standpoint, we're obviously hoping to bring some people to the area. Vendors will hopefully spend the night in Thomasville hotels, and we are expecting about 2,000 or so patrons to look at antiques and hopefully buy."
Pete Jaeger, partner with the Country Boy event management team in Chapel Hill, and Bob Mowrey, owner and operator of Pittsboro-based Hickory Mountain Antiques, will serve as directors for the fair. Scott said the men are working to help facilitate relationships with about 80 to 100 antiques dealers.
Thomasville Emporium owner Ruth Smith expressed excitement over the antiques fair being close enough to the city’s downtown area to generate traffic for her antiques mall.
"It's a very positive thing for us to have that many people who love antiques nearby," Smith said. "A lot of people do not know about the antiques mall in Thomasville. Hopefully we can give out brochures and make people aware of the fact we have a lot of good, quality items many people cannot afford to buy at retail stores.”
She, too, mentioned location as a pivotal selling point for antiques enthusiasts who may make their way into the Chair City. Visitors who travel along Interstate 85 to attend the fair will be just three miles from the Exit 103, which funnels folks toward downtown. Many will have to pass the blue highway sign which includes the Thomasville Emporium as one of the city’s destinations.
"With Interstate 85, we're getting a lot of traffic because of the sign we worked so hard to get the DOT to put up,” Smith said. “It's been prosperous and helpful to downtown.”
In the process of reaching out to partners for the antiques fair, Scott notes that the Chair City’s character is changing. For years, individuals have lamented the loss of the furniture industry and think of the community for what it was. Scott says heritage is important, but he believes that projects such as the antique fair demonstrate what the city can be.
"When you think of Thomasville, you think of fine furniture [industry]," Scott said. "We want to change that perception by hosting events like this antiques fair. The money collected is for nonprofit Thomasville tourism, so we'll use it to promote Thomasville even more."
Scott's vision calls for the fair to become a biannual event — held on the first weekend in October and May. If anticipated success come to fruition, it could easily represent a much larger boon for the greater Thomasville area in years to come.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.