Twice a year, in the early fall and in spring, tiny Round Top, Texas, (pop. 90) plays host to one of the country’s biggest antique markets—the original Round Top Antiques Fair. Dealers come from all over the world to set up shop in tents, barns, and in the wide-open, scenic fields along Highway 237. This year, we asked Nicki Clendening, interior designer, Round Top veteran, and South Carolina native, to share her secrets from the show—from what tents to peruse first to where you can score the best Texas barbecue.
Interior designer Nicki Clendening.
“Whatever you might want or be looking for, you can find it at Round Top: turquoise jewelry, French linens, Italian furniture, vintage pottery, antique and new rugs, outdoor furniture, planters, chandeliers, and more,” says Clendening, who was shopping for her new online store, Beetle, which launches this winter.
The show tents and vendor offerings are scattered along a seven-mile stretch, so knowing where to start is key. “I always begin at the Marburger tents and then go to Blue Hills, Big Red Barn, La Bahia (in a 100 year old dance hall), and leave the fields in Warrenton and beyond last. This year I discovered the new stand alone compound at Old World Antieks which housed a variety of great dealers and an outpost of Distinguished Transport to take care of shipping anything.”
From left: Antler heaven at Tusk Old World Antiques; Classic Flemish, French, and English antiques are sold at Old World Antieks; vintage silverware in the Marburger tents.
Clendening starts at the Marburger tents for two reasons: the goods and the great food. “It’s simply the best in my opinion. The dealers in these tents set up their booths like miniature stores and they are beautifully appointed with gorgeous furnishings, lighting, and accessories. Plus, people rave about the Texas barbecue and the homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches for sale.”
The Blue Hill area and the vendors at the Red Barns are set up in a similar way, just on a smaller scale. The fields have more of a flea market feel. If you’re still hungry after the show, United Methodist Men of La Grange BBQ, always draws an enthusiastic crowd and is just up the road from all the tents and vendors inside the United Methodist Church in La Grange, Texas. This map link is a helpful guide.
From left: An antique garden urn inside the Marburger tents; turquoise jewelry at the Good Stuff; a reupholstered chair in natural hide at Forsyth.
A few more suggestions, if you plan to attend: Book your accommodations early—very early. There are two singular spots nearby: Rachel Ashwell’s The Prairie, and the Roundtop Houses. “They are wonderfully charming but they often book up a year out, so most people stay in the surrounding areas,” she says. “This trip I stayed in a adorable cottage found on Airbnb in historic Smithfield, which is a only 45 minutes away.” Dress for the weather (the market is hot in fall and usually wet in spring) and bring cash because most vendors prefer it and it will help with haggling.
For even more planning help, visit the below websites: