A sunny Saturday and a 63-year tradition of quality antiques wrapped in a friendly atmosphere helped bring a steady number of visitors to the Oregon Woman's Club Antique Show last weekend.
Close to 1,800 people attended the 63rd annual two-day show March 23 and 24 at the Blackhawk Center in Oregon.
The show, which serves as the main fundraiser for the woman's club, was on a record-setting pace early Saturday as anxious customers waited in line to enter.
"Saturday was terrific. We had more than 400 in the first hour and more than 1,100 in the first four hours," said show manager Ron Bry, Oregon. "Our previous attendance record for Saturday was 1,200 for the whole day, so we broke that."
Sunday's crowd was not as robust thanks in part, to a forecast of snow.
"Mother Nature kind of threw us an 8-ball, but it was also Palm Sunday," said Bry.
The show averages around 1,750 customers, Bry said.
"Last year we had 1,850 which was a record. My goal is 2,000 and then I'll retire," joked Bry.
A $6 admission fee entitled visitors to two days of perusing 52 booths from a variety of antique dealers.
Attendance is important since the woman's club donates all proceeds from the show (after expenses) to local organizations and causes.
"This is our main fundraiser," said Oregon Woman's Club President Judy Groharing. "We give all the money away after our expenses are met."
Some of the local organizations the Oregon Woman's Club has helped include: the Rock River Center, Hospice, Shining Star, Friends of the Library, Hope, Lifeline (food pantry), Village of Progress, Ogle County Historical Society, Oregon Trail Days, Pegasus, and the Boy and Girl Scouts.
The 38-member club also awards college scholarships and helps kids at Christmas.
"We try to keep this a top-notch show," said Groharing. "We try to get a good mixture—something for everyone."
On Saturday morning, those familiar with the show made their way through the rows of tastefully decorated booths with a tactical stop midway at the snack bar for the club's trademark egg and olive sandwich, now delivered by the Oregon Kiwanis Club.
The Kiwanis Club staffed the snack bar which also featured pulled pork sandwiches, desserts and beverages.
Mary Lou’s Crystal Repair, Joliet, was on hand to repair damaged heirlooms while customers waited. On Sunday, close to 100 visitors paid a small fee to have Munda & Associates, Auctioneers & Appraisers, Freeport, appraise items.
Mt. Morris residents Bryce Morris and his sister Lani were busy Saturday seeing if they could find Oregon-area postcards among thousands of antique postcards at the Antiquities booth.
"We're looking for Oregon ones," Bryce said. "There are some good ones."
Carol Bushong, DeKalb, had high praise for the show from the perspective of both a dealer and customer.
"I'm just a shopper today," she said on Saturday. "This is my favorite show. The people here are wonderful. Ron Bry is amazing to work with. They will help you load and unload as a vendor. This is great place to have it. The floor is wonderful to walk on."
Stephanie Gualandri, Ottawa, was examining items at Net-Tiques, an Oregon-based booth. She said she makes sure she visits the show every year.
"It's a very good show," she said. "It's a good location and they have a nice variety of items."
Chicago antique dealers Richard and Lorraine Ellison couldn't remember how many years they've had a booth at the show.
The Ellisons have been "antiquing" since 1953 and will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in October.
"We keep coming back," said Lorraine, who will celebrate her 88th birthday next week. "We like the show, we like the people."
Those "people" include Oregon residents not directly affiliated with the show.
"I don't think we've ever met anyone we didn't like," said Lorraine. "And I'm serious."
"We like the food at the Sunrise restaurant," said Richard, a World War II Navy veteran. "Last year after the show we were eating breakfast there and a gentleman in the booth next to us paid for our meals because he said I was a WWII vet and he wanted to thank me for my service."
Lorraine shared barbs with some of her regular customers as they walked by the L&R Antiques booth.
"This year I have the menus from the second sinking of the Titanic," joked Lorraine. "When we were eating breakfast at McDonald's this morning there was girl sweeping and I asked her if she did windows and she said 'oh yea', but she thought I was talking about computers."