By: Dewain Belgard
“This is my last time to shop Round Top”, I overheard someone say.
I was eavesdropping. I felt guilty, I don’t know why. Everybody does it. But I was taught you shouldn’t do it. Not intentionally anyway. And if you chance to overhear someone else’s conversation, you must pretend that you didn’t.
In this case, I had no intention of pretending I hadn’t heard the remark because it was alarming to me. My retirement pension just goes so far, and the semi-annual Texas Antiques Week festival at Round Top is my main hustle for making ends meet. I never got the lady’s name. Let’s just call her Ms. Loud – no offense – I’m from a Loud family myself. And usually our kind are more likely to bark than bite. So I decided to risk it. I apologized for eavesdropping and politely asked the big question: “What in heck do you mean saying something silly like that?!”
Infrastructure of small Round Top area communities are being asked to support more than they can bear
Forty-five minutes and two quarts of ice tea later (after she had cooled down in both body and mind), I began to understand. She had spent six hours total that Saturday in her car trying to get to the large well-known venue she wanted to shop, but with utterly no success. So she gave up and shopped a couple of smaller venues instead, which gave me the opportunity (and I must sincerely say, the pleasure) of making her acquaintance.
Visit the Antiques Fair during the Week
I encouraged her not to write off Texas Antiques Week yet. I offered my standard suggestions. If you can, it’s best to take off from work a few days and visit during the week. The same show you couldn’t get to on Saturday will likely be easily accessible on Thursday or Wednesday. Learning a few parallel back roads to Hwy. 237 (where most mega-venues are located) can help, but be careful. Eventually you must get on Hwy. 237, and you can spend a long time waiting for some kind stranger to let you into the traffic flow (if you want to call a parking lot a “flow”).
Don’t forget the outlying smaller venues and shops
Plan B: if the traffic on the main drag is altogether too much of a drag, don’t forget the outlying smaller venues and shops. The crowds are less hectic there even on the weekends, and the prices are often as good or even better than similar items you may find at the mega-venues on Hwy 237.
The appeal of Acres of Merchandise and the Overwhelming Variety of Unusual and Highly Collectible Items
Still no one can deny the appeal of acres of merchandise and the overwhelming variety of unusual and highly collectible stuff you are likely to find at the large venues on the main drag. The fact is, the infrastructure (a fancy way of talking about access roads and parking spaces in this context) is being asked to support more than it can bear. Wise vendors realize this and may offer steeper discounts on slow days. So visiting your favorite mega-venue on a weekday may be more pleasant in many ways.
Of course, if you’re like me, you love to people-watch. The big weekend crowds may be part of the fascination. If that’s the case, you just got to grin and bear it!
“Hey, are we having fun yet????”