Chances are, you’ve heard of Round Top, Texas. It’s probably the only 90-person town in the world that’s famous. Each year, thousands of people from across the nation flock to experience the antiques shows that put the town on the map—and one unique festival started it all.
The aptly-named Original Round Top Antiques Fair was established in 1968; 50 years later, “the show that started it all” is going stronger than ever, hosting three unique events annually and attracting more and more visitors each year. Owner Susan Franks declares, “It’s probably the biggest [antiques] fair in the United States.”
Franks, who purchased the show 13 years ago, has a confident answer to why ORTAF has enjoyed such lasting success: “We are the true, original antique show. We only sell antiques–no reproductions,” she explained. “It’s a festival. It’s not a stale antiques show.”
And she’s right. In addition to dazzling guests with its stunning showing of European antiques, the Original Round Top Antiques Fair boasts three enormous event spaces (including an air-conditioned, 30,000 square-foot “Continental Tent” and a picture-perfect colossus called “The Big Red Barn”), a huge food court, and a late-night shopping soirée on Tuesday, featuring beer, wine, and light bites.
So, when can you experience the phenomenon? The smaller, two-day Winter Show just wrapped up, but the 50th Annual Spring Antiques Week is coming up April 2-7. Tickets, which are about $20 and good for all six days of the fair, will go on sale soon and can be purchased online (or at the gate, if you’re into spontaneity). The 2018 Fall Show will be held October 1-6. While you’re in town, be sure to explore the showings from over 50 other venues. Their events are held in tandem with ORTAF, and the vendors sell everything from flea market finds to boutique clothing and interior décor.
Mark your calendar, and be sure to get prepping—this show is kind of a big deal. Below are a few top tips to help you take on Round Top like a pro.
Where to stay
There are hundreds of B&Bs in the surrounding areas, but they book up fast. Like, months and months in advance. Make your reservations as soon as you can, or commit to driving in. (The drive is less than two hours from Houston, but prepare for show traffic to tack on some extra time.)
What to bring
Most importantly, CASH. Admission is cash-only, and some vendors don’t accept credit cards or checks. (What can we say? They’re antiquers.) Check out their FAQ page for more recommendations.
How to get there
This advice comes from Susan Franks herself: If you’re coming from Houston, take 290. With 12 miles of field shows in addition to ORTAF, coming in from 71 can be bumper-to-bumper.
Where to park
The Original Round Top Antiques Fair has a great big field where you can park (for free!) while you’re at the show.