The Memorial Hall Antique Fair returns to the Tuolumne Veterans’ Memorial Hall in Tuolumne from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
The antique sale is produced by sisters Kristen Kestly and Jennifer Agnes under the business name Vintage Chix.
“We put together two shows a year: near Valentine’s Day and sometime mid-October,” said Kestly. “This is our sixth year. We strive to make each antique fair better than the last one.”
The first hour on Saturday morning is a preview; attendees pay $5 for “the privilege of shopping early. This is very popular with serious buyers, so we require our vendors be ready to go at 7:55 a.m. on Saturday,” Kestly added.
The hall is a large Depression-era building surrounded by a shaded park and lots of parking.
“Part of the success of this antique fair is the quality of merchandise offered by our vendors,” Kestly said. “We have many customers who have happily returned each year to this event. The focus is on antique and vintage for our antique fair. We are only approving vendors who have truly vintage and antique wares, or artisan-crafted items made of true vintage bits. It can be fun, funky old stuff, shabby chic, primitives, rustic or finer antiques.”
“I recently bought a box of ephemera, which is antique slang for ‘paper,’” Kestly said, emphasizing the idea that antiquing is a pastime that can lead aficionados on journeys into history. “Included were studio photos of individuals, families, school groups, etc. There were photo albums, boxes of postcards, a map of gold mines in the Northwest Territories, a travel journal of a trip to Greece, old sheet music, a drawing by a beginning artist, Audubon prints, two 1922 calendars, six newspapers from the same day in 1926, 10 different newspapers covering the Lindbergh transcontinental flight, a newspaper from 1857, and on and on. It was a big box.
“It made me wonder, why and who saved all this stuff, especially as I recycle my own newspapers. Most of the dated items were from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, with a few items dated into the 1960s. The photos included people wearing clothing clearly dating from the late 1800s to pre-World War II.
“The studio photos all had logos from Massilon, Ohio. I called the historical society in Massilon, introduced myself and told them what I had. I mentioned the one family name that appeared throughout the box. I said, ‘Does the name Wales mean anything to you?’ She was thrilled and responded that the Wales family was one of the founding families. Last week I boxed up the 40 studio photos and sent them to the Massillon Public Library.”
“OK, so photos are easy to understand, but why would anyone keep this stuff, especially for 100 years?” Kestly wondered. “And, more importantly, what should we be keeping for the next 100 years? I am tempted to put together a box of everyday common items for my granddaughter to keep.”
“In considering all this information from the past, my conclusion is that these people lived very different lives from us today, and yet in so many ways we are the same. We travel to Greece differently, by airplane instead of boat, but we all experience the awe of the buildings, the people who built them and the birthplace of democracy.”