The second edition of the Heart of Tennessee Antique Show, under the enthusiastic management of Katherine Bovard, presented two changes from last year’s debut. Most important was the move to the recently completed, neo-farm-style Wilson County Exposition Center, just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, on the eastern edge of the Nashville metro area. Collectors may know the site from the Country Living Fairs, which have been held in the complex.
Brand spanking new this year, the Wilson County Exposition Center—located in Lebanon, Tennessee, on the eastern edge of Nashville—will be the regular venue for the Heart of Tennessee Antique Show. Dealers agreed that load-in and setup were a breeze at the spacious site.
Bud Weinert of Oxford, Michigan, was delighted with the weathered carving of a pike he had found: “This is wonderful—I just got this. It’s worn; it’s been used. It was picked out of a house where it had been for forty-seven years; it was taken to Maine where that guy kept it for nineteen years, and then it came back to Michigan where I bought it.” The fish was $1985; the shelf of many colors, $1450; the “Bank” sign, $1250; and the horse weathervane, $1480.
The event also opened earlier this year with a well-attended 5-9 p.m. preview party on Wednesday night, February 15, a day earlier in the week than the 2016 show. This fits in between the Wednesday morning opening of the Fiddlers Antiques Show and the Thursday morning start of Jenkins’s Nashville Show, both held the same weekend. Heart continued its run with Thursday and Friday sessions. The February Tennessee shows have always been known as a multishow, many-dealer marketplace, with show times that allow collectors and exhibitors to thoroughly sort through merchandise at all the events.
This year’s show might be called the real foundation of the event. Although there were only around 25 dealers, they all had the perfect sort of material set out in attractive displays. And the attendees on opening night definitely came to buy, while they had first pick of the merchandise. While $100 bills are a rare sight in daily life, the reviewer spotted many changing hands as dealers wrote up sales—a flash of old-time excitement on the floor.
One universal comment from the exhibitors was that Bovard works very hard to make this show a success and welcomes the input of the participating dealers. Kris Johnson of Tex Johnson & Son, Adamstown, Pennsylvania, said he did the first Heart show last year and he stuck with it, and he thought that next year would be really great. The facilities of the new venue at Lebanon were universally praised, especially the ease of the load-in process. Sharon and Claude Baker of Daytona Beach, Florida, who have been exhibiting their well-chosen Americana in Nashville for many years, were among the fans. She said, “I think that this is going to be a very good show in Tennessee.”
The fine pair of bears had just sold to a preview night shopper. Douglas Wyant of Cassopolis, Michigan, offered a display ad for “Premium Guernseys” for $495; the “Liars’ Bench” fishing sign, $1400; the cast-iron fern pattern armchairs, $1200 each; and a round industrial table, $195.
Hannah Humes of Ohio had an unusual bent-twig child’s rocker for $365; the name “Toddy” is stenciled on the seat. The tiger maple drop-leaf table beneath was $2569.
Tim Chambers of Missouri Plain Folk, Sikeston, Missouri, said on the show floor, “I sold a hanging cupboard, a blanket chest, the pie safe, half a dozen smalls—it took a couple hours, but I’ll tell you, this is as good as some of Heart of Country’s preview nights. It’s been terrific. Kathy’s done a great job. Even with the success she had tonight, the most she’ll add next year is fifteen more dealers. You don’t want to grow too fast, too big. All the comments and feedback have been so positive. Everybody has picked up on the momentum. This is sort of the preview of the coming shows; this is what it can be. She’s so hands on—it’s not about her, it’s strictly about the dealers. Probably the greatest thing, she has a dialogue with everyone. She does not claim to have all the answers.”
The initials of the show do spell “H.O.T.,” and Bovard is confident that the show will catch fire. Immediately after this year’s Heart closed, she was out on the road again, promoting next year’s event and handing out show cards. In a free moment, she explained future plans: “There are three shows in the Nashville area so we’d like to keep it to around fifty exhibitors for the next couple of years. Once we build up the clientele, the most I ever wanted was sixty-five.” At one time, she thought about opening a day later, but she noted, “Actually, the dealers decided that they liked the current schedule and asked would I keep it on those days. Because of our turnout and the way everything went so smoothly, they liked the idea of having it Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”
Karan and Edd Oberg of Richmond House, Ashford, Connecticut, feature 18th- and 19th-century primitive antiques. The focus of their display this year was a Massachusetts cupboard (right), 6'10" x 5'4" x 19", scraped down to the original blue surface, for $2000. Karan commented, “It was a built-in cupboard used as a pantry. The back of the cupboard was actually the wall. It has whitewash on the other side—it was a utilitarian piece.” To the left of the cupboard was one of a pair of gray-painted barn doors from Connecticut, $150 each.
Cathy Consentino, far left, of Timber River Farm, Timber River, New Brunswick, Canada, was writing up a sale on opening night. Backing the display, the black-and-white Flight of Geese quilt, 1900-10, was $550; the red-and-white gingham child’s quilt was $295. The “Livery Stable” sign above was priced at $1650.
As far as the 2017 edition, Bovard said, “Starting from the time I stepped on the property until the moment we left, nothing went wrong it seemed. Everything went smoothly—I couldn’t believe how well it went. There was no negativity; everybody was happy; they were all excited; customers were just amazing. The opening night of the show, everybody was very pleased. Customers came back a second day. They were thankful that we had the show there, and they loved the facility.
“I don’t know what other promoters do, but, for me, I enjoy being out there and going to quite a few of these shows that take place throughout the year. Making sure that the customers and dealers know about our show. I put out cards for the show and make sure that I talk to the customer and dealers. I take pictures, and I always promote our dealers on our Heart site on Facebook. I think we did a good job of advertising because on opening night we had close to 350 in the crowd.”
Sharon and Claude Baker of Daytona Beach, Florida, have exhibited in Nashville’s February shows for many years and are now on the roster at Heart. She said, “I think that this is going to be a very good show in Tennessee.” Their centerpiece was an early yellow pine hunt board, probably Georgia, for $22,500. The burl bowl on its surface was $4200; the figured stumpwork rug with flowers and parrots above was made in Bristol, Rhode Island, and was $2800. They had already sold a stenciled table and carved wood spread-wing eagle.
As for next year, the dates are already set—February 14, 15, and 16, 2018. She added, “We’re going to change our times. We’re going to open up on Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. On Thursday, so my dealers can go support the other two shows, we’ll open from noon until 8 p.m. And on Friday, it will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.” Follow the show at the website (www.heartoftennesseeantiqueshow.com), which has a link to the Facebook page.
With Easter on the horizon, Betty Bell of Dallas, Texas, had the bunnies corralled up front; the large rabbit at back left was $2450.
Originally published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2017 Maine Antique Digest