Amid the wreckage COVID-19 has wrought on Antiques Week in New Hampshire in August, there’s one lone exception: Gurley Antique Shows’ one-day show in Deerfield. The show, typically a kickoff event for the week, will be the only live Antiques Week show for 2020.
“The Socially Distant Deerfield,” joked Rachel Gurley over the phone about the August 2 event. She said that several changes have been made. “We have moved it back [to Sunday] in hopes of attracting more retail.” The show is usually held on the Monday of Antiques Week. Rachel and her brother, Josh, have also changed the opening to one hour earlier, 9 a.m. “We’ve upped our Facebook and Instagram advertising, hoping for retail and younger,” said Rachel.
As of July 3, 125 dealers had signed up to exhibit. In previous years the dealer count was 75—50 inside and 25 outside. “This will be outside only, and we’re getting amazing replies,” she said.
“We have an agreement with the state of New Hampshire that we will be only outside, practicing social distancing, and supporting mask wearing, and we will have sanitizing stations,” she added. There are no limits on mass gatherings at outdoor events in New Hampshire.
The 200-acre Deerfield Fairgrounds is large enough to host the Deerfield show.
The sheer size of Deerfield Fairgrounds helps ease the puzzle that is producing a show during a pandemic. The fairgrounds is 200 acres—the largest fairgrounds in New Hampshire. According to Gurley, there are still several wrinkles to work out. The preshow line of customers is the most vexing. “The line is the hard one. We’re discussing possibilities,” she noted.
The Gurleys are taking the health and well-being of dealers and customers seriously. “We really want to use as much space as possible to respect and appreciate social distancing. We’re hoping to limit booths to four customers to a booth and may request that dealers consider sitting behind their tables to increase social distancing.”
The roster of dealers who had committed to exhibit includes many who typically do the New Hampshire Antiques Dealers Association show, Antiques in Manchester, Americana Celebration, and Barn Star’s Midweek show. “We are not expecting this to be Antiques Week in New Hampshire. We are expecting this to be a good buyer’s market with hopefully retail. It’s a lovely area, and we’re really going to try to entice them. Plus there are going to be at least 125 high-end quality dealers attending the show as dealers,” she said.
The Gurleys had 28 shows booked for the season, “my biggest season yet,” said Gurley, but Deerfield is the only one scheduled to happen so far. Rachel expressed optimism that they could possibly mount the Thanksgiving Sunday Antique Show scheduled for November 29 in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
“We are tentatively hoping, depending on Phase Four opening in Massachusetts, for a Thanksgiving Sunday show in Marlborough,” she said. The Royal Plaza Trade Center is a 50,000-square-foot facility. “I rent the whole space. I can do every other space and still fit 100 dealers. We’ll know more in August.”
“I’ll keep calm and carry on,” she said.
Originally published in the August 2020 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2020 Maine Antique Digest