Town attracts shoppers to annual Antique Show on the Green

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Tue., Sep. 27, 2011
Antique hatpins make a colorful display at a vendor booth during the Antique Show on the Green. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Antique hatpins make a colorful display at a vendor booth during the Antique Show on the Green. Photos by Melanie Savage.

The town of Lebanon turned into a shopping mecca the weekend of Sept. 24, as individuals and groups from near and far offered a variety of goods for sale. If the town resembled a giant shopping mall, its anchor store was undeniably the 45th Annual Lebanon Historical Society Antique Show on the Green. Drawing dealers from all over New England, the event is a community-wide effort that has been a major fundraiser for the Historical Society for decades.

Over the years, numerous groups have come to capitalize on the crowds drawn by the show, and there were tag sales, book sales, garage sales, and other events happening all over town. Some of the larger events included the Jonathan Trumbull Library book sale, the American Legion tag sale and the Baptist Church tag sale. The farmers' market was well-attended across the street from the green, and local museums were all open for business.

At the antique show admissions table (a portion of the green is fenced off for the event), volunteers Jim Donnelly and Al Vertefeuille were doing a brisk business. But despite appearances, the men said that attendance over the past few years has been down. “Not too many years ago we had 2,300 or 2,500 that attended,” said Donnelly. There also used to be more vendors. “People aren’t buying as much, so it’s not worth it for some of the dealers to set up,” said Vertefeuille. The threat of rain on Sept. 24 didn’t help, either. “We were expecting about 70 vendors,” said Donnelly. “Because of the weather, I think we’re in the 60s.”

But there were still plenty of folks perusing the items at a marketplace that is a true community effort. “It really does take a village,” said Keith LaPorte, chair of the Community Events Committee.

Mary Lou Beckwith, a Lebanon kindergarten teacher for more than 30 years, agreed. “It is certainly a community event,” said Beckwith, who taught LaPorte as a kindergartener back in the ’70s. Beckwith is now retired, but still heavily involved in community activities.

According to LaPorte, Beckwith plays a big part in organizing the volunteers for the Antique Show on the Green. “We certainly couldn’t do it without her,” he said.

Among the many volunteers are members of the local fire department, who erect the storm fence encircling the show. Ed Tollman and the Slate family help prepare the field by mowing and procuring picnic tables. Volunteers help clean up and collect trash after the event. There is a large parking crew. And all food is donated by volunteers. “We have 30 women [who] bake pies,” said Beckwith. “We have a crew that cuts them all.”

Among the volunteers grilling hot dogs for the crowd was Bob Wentworth, who would turn 81 the next day. Wentworth lived in a large house across from the town green for 40 years. “Yep, I’ve seen a lot of antique shows,” he said.

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