The “wow” factor is squarely top-of-mind and flourishing as more than 100 volunteers work like bees to put the crowning touches on the 10th annual Lauritzen Gardens Antique & Garden Show this weekend.
For Kyle Robino, co-chairwoman with Jan Vrana, the biggest anticipation lies in the public's reaction to the overall aesthetic of the show.
“This is the only show of its kind in the Midwest,” said Vrana. “The closest thing to it is in Chicago.”
The event traces its beginning to garden guild members Mary Seina and the late Kim Lauritzen, who first suggested that an antique show and sale would bring both friends and money to Omaha's Botanical Center. Over the past decade, the show has drawn more than 40,000 attendees from a six-state area and has raised more than $3.8 million for the Lauritzen Gardens.
Twenty-eight dealers will fill 30 display booths with fine treasures “that you can't find in any local shop,” said Cindy Bay, honorary chairwoman with Seina. The dealers come by invitation, sometimes from as far away as Canada and Portugal. They receive the “royal treatment” from the hospitality committee, whose members offer fresh-baked cookies, flowers for booths, catered meals and other welcoming gestures.
Many dealers have been here often enough that they're greeted as if they are family. Trace Mayer of Trace Mayer Antiques in Louisville, Ky., is an example. “He's a very good friend of the guild,” Bay said. Mayer sits on the Dealer Advisory Committee and is a sounding board for ideas.
“Speakers, too, have helped put us on the map,” Vrana said, and this year's lineup is “unparalleled.”
Eddie Ross, East Coast producer/editor for Better Homes and Gardens magazine, will be a special guest at a “Cocktails and Collectibles” reception on Friday evening. For $30, attendees can mingle with art and design enthusiasts and shop the show with Ross, whose credits as a contributing editor include Martha Stewart Living magazine, House Beautiful magazine and the Food Network.
Carolyne Roehm, a trendsetter in fashion, elegance and tastemaking, headlines Friday's luncheon. Kathryn Ireland, star of Bravo TV's “Million Dollar Decorators,” brings her signature style to Saturday's brunch. Sunday afternoon, Danielle Rollins, hostess extraordinaire, shares inspiration for gracious living and stylish entertaining.
Sunday's atmosphere is aimed at families and others who may be venturing to the show for the first time — not necessarily to buy antiques, but to see what it is all about, Robino said. Complimentary champagne cocktails, coffee and doughnuts will be served (while supplies last). Dessert and candy carts are also planned. Representatives of Jackson's International Auctioneers and Appraisers of Fine Arts and Antiques will weigh in on the public's heirlooms and other personal treasures during a “What's It Worth?” appraisal clinic from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“It's a day we have created for everyone,” Robino said of Sunday's events.
Robino can't wait for the three-day party to begin.
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How to Shop the Show
Antique aficionados Cindy Bay and Jan Vrana offer these tips for shopping the Lauritzen Gardens Antique & Garden Show:
» Walk through the show two or three times, edit your choices and then make your final selection(s).
» Snap photos of your favorite items, and then review the photos in the spaces in which the items would be displayed.
» Buy what you love, but take the time to be informed. Knowing about a piece will enrich your enjoyment of it.
» In contemplating your spending, consider the savings of shopping locally. “The joy of having a show like this in Omaha is that you don’t pay shipping charges or worry about safe delivery of your purchases,” says Bay. “Some dealers are even nice enough to let you take home a piece to try it out in a particular space.”
Where to Start
Working antiques into a contemporary home’s decor is a cinch, says Suzanne Rheinstein, interior style expert and author. The trick is to look at antiques as art objects. “Sometimes it can be hard to make that first purchase because you don’t trust yourself or you don’t know what you’re getting into,” says Rheinstein, who owns Hollyhock decorative arts and fine antiques in Los Angeles.
Her suggestions, as a starting point:
• Decorative plates
• Old lighting
• Wedgwood black basalt
• Old English delftware
• Flight, Barr & Barr porcelain
“Most antique dealers adore talking about what they have, so take the opportunity to inform yourself,” Rheinstein says. “Buy what you love. You’ll always find a place for it.”