Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Antique exhibit popular at county fair

by Rob Ireland

September 06, 2012

ELKHORN — It’s a mini-museum from an era that has long passed.

This exhibit includes an egg carton maker, butter churns and baseball mitts with multiple fingers.

More than 1,200 antiques were showcased in the antique barn at the Walworth County Fair. Inside the barn people with the neatest treasures earned ribbons and cash prizes for their family heirlooms or favorite collectible. These items aren’t for sale, but are part of a competition.

Janet Schmaling, who is the supervisor with the fair’s antique department, said the exhibit attracts a lot of people and even believes it is one of the most popular places to be during the festivities.

“It’s one of the most popular buildings,” she said. “A lot of people say other fairs don’t have it.”

Visitors to the barn like to “ooh” and “aah” over the pieces and ask questions about the different items that are on display.

Among the most popular items in this year’s barn were a railroad fire extinguisher grenade tube, a machine that made cast molded army toys and a wedding dress from 1904.

Schmaling said her favorite piece that was on display was the egg carton maker. She said the attendants answered more questions about that piece than any other.

Schmaling also has observed more young people gaining an interest in antiques.

“A lot of young people are getting into it because their grandparents are leaving stuff with them,” Schmaling said. “People live longer and they become better acquainted with their grandparents.”

Participants submit their pieces into one of the 18 categories, and each category has numerous subcategories.

Pre-entering into the contest requires a season pass, and anyone with a pass can submit up to 30 items. However, they can only submit one item into each of the subcategories.

For a piece to be considered it must be at least 70 years old.

The judges consider the antiques condition and general appearance, age and rarity, point of interest, value and whether it was entered into the right class.

Judges also select a best in show. Schmaling said this year’s winner stood out above the rest of the entries.

The best in show was a hand-painted Bavarian China bowl that sat on golden-colored, foot-shaped pedestals.

The artist who created the bowl also signed it.

Schmaling said it is unusual to find a bowl that still had all its pedestals intact.

The Bavarian China bowl and all the other antiques won’t be able to enter the competition next year. A piece can only be submitted once every three years, which keeps the competition and display fresh.

Schmaling also said the security of the antiques is also important and a security person spends the night in the barn during the fair.