Show Review: Renninger’s Antiques Extravaganza 2008
When a friend of mine asked me how I rated this year’s Extravaganza inMt.Dora, I told him it was either very good or freaking fantastic depending on events yet to develop. It’s always important to remember that networking is a significant factor in these types of shows and sometimes who you meet is more important than what you buy.
As my wife Cindy and I loaded up our truck on Friday morning like explorers headed for the Congo, we noted that the weather forecast for Jacksonville was dubious at best. The early part of the weekend was predicted to be plagued with multiple bouts of rain followed by a cold front on Sunday. Thankfully, roughly one hundred miles south in Mt.Dora, it was sunny and clear and nothing more discouraging than the odd cloud cover ever crossed our path. This was prime antiquing weather!
Entering the Twin Pine Antique Market right at the 10AM starting time, I noticed a much less congested line of cars than at similar times on previous years. We were actually able to park much closer to the entry gates than usual and this threw us off when we first entered. We had to backtrack to the top of the hill to avoid starting in the middle, where the gate we entered through led us. This is a large outdoor show (filling roughly one square mile of a field), so the only hope the average attendee has of covering most of the vendors in one day is to start at one end and systematically work your way through the rows to the other. Since this field is located on a very steep incline and the majority of the parking is at the top, we prefer to work our way downhill.
As soon as we started through our first aisle, I heard a woman complaining of “sensory overload” in response to her friend’s attempts to speed up her progress. This is a very common symptom of “Mt. Dora-itis”, especially prevalent in newer attendees. The merchandise on display at this show is so vast and varied that it is easy to become overwhelmed. Even if you are not a collector, it is fun just to look at all the memory stimulating items from times past that have survived and found their way to this one venue. This show is probably the closest nostalgia junkies like me are ever going to get to having a time machine.
Darting among the vendors, I immediately noticed that the back area was much more spread out than usual. While this indicated fewer dealers than in previous years, it also made it easier to navigate the field. In addition to the vendor turn out being lower, the number of people attending on Friday seemed to be down as well. This may have been a sign of the current economy but it also meant that prices were lower and most dealers were willing to do just that, deal!
We perused items as diverse as house wares, advertising props, coins, drive-in speakers, pinball back glass, artwork, furniture, and even antique Christmas ornaments. Cindy enjoyed digging through the cases of jewelry which ranged from cheap costume pieces to unique family heirlooms. Meanwhile, I found a dealer with a table full of old 8mm movies like those of us born before the advent of VCRs used to marvel at when projected on the dining room wall. There were plenty of vintage toys on display but I did not spot one vintage G.I. Joe item this year. Surprisingly, there were multiple dealers with Johnny West figures and accessories from the same era, which are usually less common than Joe.
I have run across fossil dealers at this show in the past but none with the quality and selection like I saw this year. Trilobites and mollusk shells are common in fossils but this year we saw actual dinosaur bones. I could not identify the animals from their remains but the skulls looked like something of aquatic origin. $3,500 was too steep for my wallet but where else are you going to have an opportunity to purchase genuine artifacts like this at any price?
One of the great things about the Mt.Dora show being in November, aside from the weather, is that it provides a great opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping. For about the same amount as you would spend in a department store, you can often find impressive gifts for friends and family on your list even if they are not collectors. I purchased a Jim Beam metal cigar case for a friend of mine who smokes. While the case appears to contain two cigars, once opened it reveals a single cigar tube and a flask to hold your Jim Beam! I also purchased a stainless steel cylinder from the same vendor that will make an excellent trinket box.
After about two and a half hours of walking on uneven terrain, Cindy was getting tired and ready to return to the truck. I decided to stick it out a little longer and finish the last few rows since I was so close to the end. As I entered the very next aisle, I was almost bowled over by the sight of some beautiful movie posters propped up on boards in the bright mid-day sun. What really grabbed my attention was the one sheet for the greatest Godzilla film ever made, Destroy All Monsters, with its Reynold Brown artwork depicting every major Toho monster up to that time (1969). As I was inspecting this beauty, the booth’s proprietor approached me and told me of an entire box of folded posters he had with him and four more just like that one at home. After some wheeling and dealing, I walked away with one sheet posters for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Devil’s Rain, Deliverance, Carrie, Daughters of Satan / Superbeast combo, and, of course, the previously mentioned DAM, at very favorable prices. I also had the gentleman’s phone number and an invitation to visit his home and the rest of this collection that came from the chain of movie theaters his wife’s family once owned. It’s finds like these that can make even the driest of shows worth attending and this one purchase has the potential to lead to many more in the future.
For anyone in need of a nostalgia fix or seeking the fast track down memory lane, the November Mt. Dora Extravaganza should not be missed. Regardless of whether I buy anything or not, I always enjoy the walk through this museum of memories with a little fresh air and sunshine thrown in for good measure. Even though the number of vendors may have declined this year, Cindy and I are seriously considering a two day visit for the 2009 show to make the coverage more thorough and the pace more leisurely.