Purchase Story

Historic Setting Is Boost for Annual Show

Zoar Harvest Festival & Antiques Show, Zoar, Ohio

The tents were a dead giveaway. Rounding the corner into Zoar, Ohio, during the last weekend in July, the huge white tents bordering cornfields could mean only one thing. The 46th annual Zoar Harvest Festival was underway, and with it antiques. Clarification: great antiques.

The antiques dealers who participate in the Zoar Harvest Festival & Antiques Show always bring their best pieces.

Show manager Steve Sherhag continues to get the formula right for a great antiques show. Attractive, accessible location, fantastic dealers, and abundant advertising bring about an event dealers and buyers want to come back to year after year.

Two carved stone dogs offered by Greg K. Kramer & Company, Robesonia, Pennsylvania, stood sentry by one tent’s entrance. This example with bared teeth and a curly coat was priced at $22,500.

The location of the Zoar Harvest Festival, held this year on July 27 and 28, couldn’t be better suited to host an antiques show. Historic Zoar Village was founded in 1817 by more than 200 German Separatists seeking escape from religious persecution in their homeland. And what a fitting name for their new home. In the Bible, Zoar was where Lot and his wife took refuge, which is what the original settlers of Zoar needed.

Though the group’s intent was to escape the hardship of religious persecution, the Society of Separatists of Zoar traded that hardship for another kind of hardship, that of surviving in a wild frontier. After two years of struggle, it was determined that a cooperative, communal settlement would better help them survive. They laid out their village as the Germans did back in the old country, centering it on a town square. They created a communal three-acre flower garden in a geometric pattern (which still thrives today) to represent the “New Jerusalem” described in the Book of Revelation and were aided in this venture by building Ohio’s first greenhouse.

The Separatists thrived for more than 80 years, making Zoar Village one of the most successful communal settlements in American history. Today, the village of Zoar is made up of approximately 58 families living in homes built from 1817 to the present, and during the Harvest Festival, the 12 buildings of Historic Zoar Village are open to the public.

Sherhag pointed out, “I really think high-end antique shows have an advantage when they are held in a historical setting, and Zoar is a perfect fit. People looking for antiques already have the interest, the mindset geared towards a historical setting.”

In addition to Zoar’s historical buildings, the festival has artisans’ tents filled with work by some of the most talented craftspeople in the country: theorems, hooked rugs, carvings, basketry, furniture, and the like. Add in great food and a beer tent, and what’s not to like?

The setting is hard to beat, and then there are the dealers and the wonderful items they hold back specifically for Zoar. “I’ve really made an effort since taking over the show four years ago to bring together a great mix of dealers who always offer wonderful items. I had many people, both shoppers and dealers, tell me what a great-looking show it was this year, one of the best they’ve seen. The word is getting out about the quality that shows up at Zoar, and people are coming to buy,” said Sherhag.

This year there was a great deal of buying for some dealers. “One dealer had his best show ever, with $75,000 in sales,” Sherhag said. But even with a great crowd Saturday and a decent one, despite the heat, on Sunday, Sherhag commented that some dealers did not do well; he was one of those.

“It was bizarre,” Sherhag noted. “Either dealers did very, very well, like over $40,000, or in the $15,000 to $20,000 range, with a good amount saying they sold between $6000 and $10,000, and then there were those of us, me included, that brought in $2500 or less. One dealer who had a horrible year here last year had $9000 in sales this year and was very happy. There didn’t seem to be much of a middle ground. I don’t know why. It’s just what the numbers broke down to.”

More than one dealer with strong sales noted that good things were being bought. “We had a $17,000 pie safe go out of the tent. A great tool chest with an eagle decoration sold for somewhere around $2600,” Sherhag pointed out. “Collectors are coming to Zoar expecting to buy good pieces, and the dealers brought their best, which I always appreciate.”

Sherhag has found just the right balance of using social media, print advertising, and word of mouth to bring in the buyers. For the second year now, Sherhag also provided a split tent setup along with locating some dealers in the air-conditioned schoolhouse.

This stone carved dog was $29,500 from Greg K. Kramer & Company. The white marble spaniel on a mound was by Howard A. Brigden (1841-1913), who fought in the Civil War and later carved several figures. Kramer offered the carving with a photo of Brigden with an eagle he carved that tops a monument located in Mesopotamia, Trumbull County, Ohio.

“I love the tents, but it’s the use of walls to create the dealer spaces that really makes this show stand out, in my opinion,” Sherhag stated. Tom Orwig of Showtime Displays from Indiana makes sure that walls are available for dealers to rent for this purpose. “Staging an attractive booth that shows off what is available to purchase is so much easier with walls,” Sherhag noted. “Pieces that should be hung always look better hanging in a dealer display. Some pieces need a corner to look their best, and walls provide this.”

Sherhag said that those who put on the Harvest Festival did an outstanding job taking care of the dealers this year, including providing water throughout both days and walking the show to make sure dealers had food.

“For a show like this to be successful, you need an interesting setting, great weather, a buying crowd, and happy dealers,” Sherhag stated. “I think at this year’s Zoar Harvest Festival, we came pretty close to getting it right.”

For more information, contact Steve Sherhag at (330) 207-2196 or see the website (www.historiczoarvillage.com).

Pieces of stone fruit are usually small. This large apple “cut” into two pieces, approximately 4" tall, is uncommon. Catskills Antiques, Delhi, New York, offered it for $295. The apple sits atop a small cutting board tagged $45.

Several dealers were located in the Zoar schoolhouse and enjoyed the luxury of air conditioning. Jerseys’ Antiques, Davenport, Iowa, presented this sparkly display of early pickle jars. In the front row at right is a circa 1870 enameled cranberry jar sitting in a James Tufts silver frame, priced at $475. Behind the jar and also housed in a James Tufts silver frame is a circa 1880 enameled example in blue glass tagged $465. The lone clear crystal jar in the back row, circa 1897, from the U.S. Glass Co, Illinois, and presented in a Webster Brothers silver frame, was $395.

American Antiques offered this large tabletop cast-iron herb grinder for $395.

Doorknockers, paperweights, and bottle openers, all in cast iron, most made by Hurley, created a striking display in the dealer space of Diane Farr Antiques, Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Priced from $250 for a circa 1930 painted butterfly doorknocker to $65 for a 4" high painted mountain goat bottle opener, these little guys looked great grouped together.

Standing sentry at one entrance to the large booth of Greg K. Kramer & Co., Robesonia, Pennsylvania, was this pair of decorative 20th-century wooden carved dogs complete with hanging tongues, collars, and textured coats. The pair was tagged $1295. Kramer also offered two stone carved dogs (shown on previous page) that guarded the entrance to one of the show’s tents.

On display in the booth of Stephen-Douglas Antiques, Walpole, New Hampshire, and Rockingham, Vermont, this sweet cloth doll with a hand-painted face drew in showgoers. Found many years ago at the Todd Farm Flea Market in Rowley, Massachusetts, the doll is all original, including the dress and cape, the chair, and the flag pin on her chest. Thought to be circa 1870, the doll was tagged $1850.

Dealer Greg K. Kramer’s space was almost overwhelming with its quantity of wonderful pieces on display. Making good use of the booth’s walls were late 19th- and early 20th-century weathervanes, including a copper arrow with gilding and a wooden finial ($675), a folk art sheet iron and wood Native American chief holding a hatchet, a sheet iron running horse with an old paint surface ($475), and a folky sheet iron standing pig tagged $1495. The paint-decorated New England dressing table at left wearing its original yellow with green design was priced at $1295.

Dealer Greg K. Kramer’s space was almost overwhelming with its quantity of wonderful pieces on display. Making good use of the booth’s walls were late 19th- and early 20th-century weathervanes, including a copper arrow with gilding and a wooden finial ($675), a folk art sheet iron and wood Native American chief holding a hatchet, a sheet iron running horse with an old paint surface ($475), and a folky sheet iron standing pig tagged $1495. The paint-decorated New England dressing table at left wearing its original yellow with green design was priced at $1295

Oversize seemed to be the theme in the dealer space of Western Reserve Antique Shop, Canfield, Ohio. According to dealer Leisa Kirtley, the large two-
handled piece hanging on the back wall was used for winnowing or removing the chaff from grain. It was tagged $545. The large maple sugaring trough with a stand made for the trough was priced at $695. The massive burl bowl was $1695. The bowl sits atop a sweet, simple straight-leg table in an old red wash, priced at $495. An early fireplace three-footed
rotating broiler (back wall) was $165.

On display outside one of the tents were sewer tile chimney toppers or caps that are not unlike oversize chess pieces. They were priced from $325 to $425 by Frank Swala of Jefferson, Pennsylvania. Show manager Steve Sherhag stated that several of these chimney tops found new homes.


Chris Smith of American Antiques, Waynesville, Ohio, offered the 58-drawer storage cabinet for $3450. Each drawer is numbered on the back side so it is clear where each should go. “I didn’t have to count the drawers,” Smith stated. “I just pulled out the last drawer to see what its number was.” The quartet of small chests on top included an eight-drawer spice chest ($295), a chest with two small drawers over two larger drawers, all with ring pulls ($795), a splayed-leg jewelry box with a rod lock in the bottom two drawers ($795), and a walnut example on bracket feet priced at $895. The framed jointed tin dancing Uncle Sam was $950, and the tall metal star on a pole was tagged $395. Smith said it is called a railroad star and was used to tell the engineer if there was water available at the next stop.

Made of walnut and in an old finish, this circa 1840 Ohio or Virginia pie safe with a cutout base and tins punched with six-point stars was tagged $2650 by Ponzi’s Antiques, Trumansburg, New York. The sides and the top of the safe are one-board construction, and the front has reeded picture frame molding. The unusual single-drawer curly tiger maple stand with two shelves and splayed feet hails from Ashtabula County, Ohio. It is dated 1838 in the drawer and was priced at $2400. The colorfully graphic hooked rug on the wall was $395, and the circa 1860 oil on canvas of peaches and grapes in a pewter compote was $995.

Giving show attendees a peek at what could be found inside the tents were several fantastic pieces on display at one of the tent’s entrances. This fancy folk art fireplace mantel with wood carvings, in its original paint, was priced at $2250 by Greg K. Kramer & Company, Robesonia, Pennsylvania.

Andrew Richmond and Hollie Davis of the Ohio Company Antiques & Art, Marietta, Ohio, had a wonderful oil on canvas portrait of a Barrington, New Hampshire, farm, dated on the back “Sep. 30th, 1876.” It was tagged $2400.

The booth of Rush Antiques and Appraisals, Shelby Township, Michigan, is a great example of how dealers created wonderful room displays in the show’s massive tents. The circa 1730 Connecticut River valley chest of drawers on the back wall was tagged $2500, and the circa 1847 oil on canvas of the ship Kobenhavn by Salem, Massachusetts, artist John Benson was $1950. The full-length oil on canvas portrait of the young woman leaning on a column is dated 1830 and was tagged $3000. The oil on canvas of the horse Overton by English artist P. Taylor is dated 1847 and was $1800. The dome-top chest in old blue paint was $350, and the chest on bracket feet, decorated with panels with floral images, was priced at $2650.

Originally published in the November 2019 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2019 Maine Antique Digest

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