Hello dear junk loving hoarders and flea market foragers! Today I am thrilled to share a special post all about my dream day at the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio last month! Of course the Country Living Fair is any vintage junker’s dream, but it was a special interview with Country Living Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief, Rachel Hardage Barrett that really made it a dream day for me. In early September I contacted Carrie Carlson, PR director at Country Living about possibly covering the fair for my “Let’s go Junkin’!” series here on the blog. Carrie set me up with a free early bird ticket to the Columbus event, and some photos and documents pertaining to the history and specifics of the fair to use in my blog post. She also set up a time for me to meet and interview Rachel! The perks of blogging!
Before I get into the exciting interview, I will be sharing some interesting facts about the event and some fun highlights from my day at the Country Living Fair 2017 in Columbus, Ohio.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Country Living Fair! The very first Country Living Fair was held in London, England. The event was a huge success, and former Editor-in-Chief Nancy Soriano felt that it was something US readers would also love. She was certainly right! There are now four fairs held throughout the year across the United States, and each fair draws around 25,000 guests!
The Country Living Fair in Columbus, OH is the closest to Kentucky, and I have luckily been able to attend the last two years. There were 200 vendors from 25 states offering antiques and vintage collectibles, original art, handmade crafts and furniture, specialty foods, and farm fresh fall produce! There was truly a little something for everyone. Just take a look at all of the diverse merchandise available to shoppers!
Photo: Country Living Magazine
Gorgeous upcycled jewelry: Findings
Farmhouse decor: The Ivory Barn
Original Art: The Painted Jackalope
In addition to all of the fabulous shopping opportunities (including the Country Living General Store) guests had opportunities to meet Country Living staff members, attend book signings, and participate in cooking, crafting, and DIY demonstrations. Foodies were able to sample all the best local artisanal foods as well!
Vintage al fresco dining, anyone????
In addition to all of the amazing vintage loot just waiting to be discovered, the Columbus fair is perfect for anyone who loves all things autumn and a fall festival type atmosphere. Most all of the booths incorporated touches of fall into their displays.
Bales of hay, bright mums, bittersweet vines, beautiful seasonal container plantings, and fodder shocks surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins and gourds were artfully and creatively arranged all over the fair grounds.
My favorite booth display: Farmhouse Frocks
There were so many amazing vendor displays and seasonal decorations!
The fair seemed to be very “dog friendly” too!
Although no giant antique phonograph is in sight, “Nipper” the famous vintage RCA mascot lent an ear to the fair’s street musicians instead!
A rusty old truck surrounded by a cornucopia of vintage junk finds, pumpkins and other fall goodies provided by Hites Heirloom Pumpkin Farm was a very popular spot at the fair!
On site at the fair grounds is the historic Ohio Village. The quaint buildings provided the perfect backdrop for all the amazing fall displays, such as the well known “pumpkin tower,” a favorite spot for many junkers and pumpkin lovers to take photos.
The pumpkin tower sat just outside the old Town Hall building which was set up to hold the Country Living staff “meet and greet” sessions and book signings.
Inside was beautifully decorated for the event with a rustic and natural seasonal theme.
A huge poster of the cover of the October Issue of Country Living Magazine was an eye-catching focal point!
Before Rachel arrived I had a chance to spend some time alone in the building to get some pictures. Even with all the treasures waiting outside at the fair, I couldn’t help noticing some of the antiques in the building too, like this beautiful tole painted chair.
There were various stations around the room set up to meet and greet members of the Country Living staff, authors and artisans. Several copies of back issues of Country Living Magazine were on display for attendees to enjoy.
Thanks to a meeting set up by Country Living’s PR Director, Carrie Carlson, I was able conduct my interview with Rachel in the old town hall before the public meet and greet sessions. I was maybe just a wee bit nervous about the meeting, but Rachel entered with a smile and was pleasant and easy to interview! Her upbeat personality and common interest in vintage junk hunting soon put me at ease!
Rachel has been Editor-In-Chief of Country Living for four years. With the popularity of the magazine, I think everyone would agree that she is doing a wonderful job! Prior to the interview I had read Rachel’s “editor’s note” in the current issue of Country Living, where she she shares how her finds spill over into her children’s bedrooms. I thought this was the perfect subject to begin the interview. I was eager to hear all about Rachel’s personal style and her own junkin’ adventures in addition to finding out more about the fair. I soon discovered that not only does she love featuring great content in the magazine, but she also loves vintage style and the thrill of the hunt!
I began the interview by asking Rachel to elaborate on her editor’s note in a little more detail.
Q. “Rachel thank you so much for meeting with me today. I recently read your editor’s note about how you are decorating your children’s rooms with vintage finds and using that as an excuse to go treasure hunting! I had to laugh because I have done the same thing with my two sons! I am curious to know where you find your treasures? Do you actually have the opportunity to shop the Country Living Fairs, or is it “all work and no play” for you during fair time?”
A. “I always make sure I get a chance to get out and enjoy some personal shopping time at each of the fairs! I love searching for unique vintage treasures here too! Because I have small children right now I still have an excuse to buy fun vintage accessories for their rooms. That excuse will work while they are young, but when they are older and want to decorate their rooms in their own styles, I will have to come up with another justification for bringing home vintage junk!“
During our interview, I quickly found that Rachel’s own personal love of vintage treasures is really all the justification she needs to go junkin’!
Rachel shopping at Lynn Michelle Design (Photo courtesy of Lynn Troyer)
Q. “Is there anything in particular you will be hunting for today, such as a favorite collectible or unique vintage decor item?”
A. “I love looking for fun vintage camping themed items for my kid’s rooms, but I collect old paint-by-numbers so I am always looking for those. I also have a special place in my heart for anything ‘vintage nautical.'”
Later in the afternoon I ran back into Rachel out on the junkin’ trail! True to her word she was searching for unique treasures for her son’s room. Here she shows off some super cool retro arrows!
Q. “Rachel, there are a lot of other well-known junk markets, vintage fairs and craft shows all over the United States such as Round Top and Brimfield. What do you think sets the Country Living Fair apart from all the others?”
A. “I would have to say we have more to offer than just a fun shopping experience. We provide many “hands-on” learning opportunities for our guests, in addition to chances to meet and greet authors, artisans, and members of the Country Living staff. For example, this year we are partnering with JoAnn stores for various “Make and Take” workshops, craft making sessions and fun demonstrations during our three day event.”
My favorite demonstration was the live pumpkin carving by Master Squash Carver, Gus Smithhisler. Any guesses as to what his finished masterpiece turned out to be? Keep reading!
Q. “There are four fairs held annually, each at a different location. Do you notice a definite regional flare in the types of merchandise offered at each of the fairs, and if so, what do you see represented here at Columbus event? Is there anything that makes it extra special?”
A. “There is definitely regional representation. Each fair is a completely different experience, which is why a lot of people do attend more than one fair a year. Here in Ohio, we see the reflection of farm life. Not necessarily farmhouse style decor particularly, although that is certainly popular, but we actually see a lot of authentic vintage farming tools and memorabilia, and things that represent the way of life of farmers in the Midwest. I also think the location of the Columbus fair makes it really special, since it is literally on site at the historic Ohio Village. Being able to walk through the streets of the village is like a step back in time, especially when surrounded by all of the wonderful antiques and vintages wares which makes it really nice.”
As seen below, the beautiful spires on top of the old town church tower over miles of vintage goodness. Since it can be seen from afar, the church is a good reference point to help shoppers navigate the enormous fair.
Q. “As I walked through the fair this morning on the way to meet you I caught glimpses of a very wide variety of merchandise! What collectibles or decor do you think will be highly sought after items at the fair this weekend, and what kinds of collectibles or decor trends do you predict for 2018?”
A. “Anything repurposed is still going strong in decor. People also seem to love vintage specimen charts, maps and globes, architectural salvage and antique housewares. My staff and I have also noticed the continued popularity of vintage camping themed items such as old plaid coolers and thermoses. Anything Western style or Wes Anderson influenced is also very popular.”
If you attended the Columbus event this year and were looking for any of the items Rachel mentioned, the vendors had you covered…literally!
There were so many amazing booths and vintage treasures all around me at the fair that I sometimes was blissfully disoriented and didn’t know which way to go next… but when I spotted this yummy, gorgeous buffet at This Found Object I couldn’t get in the booth fast enough! As Rachel predicted, the booths with all the chippy architectural salvage were very popular!
Probably the hardest question for Rachel to answer when asked on the spot was:
Q. “What is your most favorite aspect of the Country Living Fair in general?”
After thinking for a brief moment, she had a definitive answer:
A. “I would have to say the best part about organizing and attending all of the Country Living Fairs overall is meeting all the interesting people and finding new homes to showcase in our magazine. In addition to just having a great time, we use the fairs to scout out potential homes, shops, or artisans we feel would be great to share with our readers. For example, we can often times tell how a person’s home will look by the style of their booth. An eclectic display or highly curated booth is likely a reflection of the vendor’s personal decorating style. Many of the homes we feature in Country Living were a result of contacts made at a Country Living Fair!”
That answer surely had me considering becoming a vendor at next year’s event, in hopes that Rachel and her team would scout out my booth and hopefully consider my home for the pages of Country Living Magazine!
Q. “Thank you so much for taking the extra time to meet with me for an interview for my Let’s Go Junkin’ series on my blog! It has truly been an honor! In closing, I would like to know if you can think of any special event or memorable moment that stands out in your mind from any of the Country Living Fairs you have attended?”
A. “Oh definitely! The most memorable event was a couple getting engaged to be married during the fair! Everyone was just so happy that day! The couple really loved junk and antiques so it was the perfect location for the proposal. When I think about it, all of the events are memorable because there are just so many wonderful people at these fairs. From vendors to shoppers, no one ever seems to be in a bad mood because they are doing what they love!”
Q. “So even though there are some die hard junkers here, it’s nothing like “Black Friday” right?”
A. “No, not really! Everyone works so hard to make the fairs a success. People are always smiling and enjoying themselves, and that makes me so happy to be a part of it all. The fair keeps growing and people return year after year because it is just such a positive experience!”
Photo: Country Living Magazine
With that upbeat and positive response, we concluded the interview but continued to chat for a few minutes about the fair, blogging, and my ideas for the Let’s Go Junkin’! blog series. I also had the pleasure of meeting Senior Editor Madeline Reeves and talking for a few minutes about the fun workshops scheduled for the day. We exchanged emails, took a few pictures and said our goodbyes. Rachel happily autographed my personal copy of Country Living Magazine, then I merrily floated out the wide open doors of the town hall and into the sea of vintage treasures awaiting.
Life is but a dream, or at least a series of dreams…and getting to hang out for a bit and talk vintage decor and collectibles with the editors of America’s most popular decorating magazine surely was a dream come true for me!
Even though there were 2oo vendors offering the most wonderful treasures, one special item caught my eye at the Vintage Inspired booth. Take a look at my fabulous junkin’ find—a beautiful late 1800’s T & R Boote ironstone platter! Isn’t the design wonderful? After some research it turns out this is quite a rare piece. I am still conducting research and I will be sharing all about the platter in an upcoming post. I certainly am going to ask Rachel and her expert appraisers, “What’s Is Worth?”
In closing I would sincerely like to thank Rachel, Senior Editor, Madeline Reeves, and PR Director Carrie Carlson for making this interview a possibility and for all the hard work that goes into making the magazine and fairs successful! I would also like to thank all of the artisans and vendors who took the time to come out and share their talents and vintage junk with all of us!
Master Squash Carver Gus Smithhisler’s masterpiece: The Headless Horseman (Photo: Trina Lucindo, Jubilee Flea)
So much cool junk, so little time, and so many more photos yet to see! There were a lot of other great booths that I wanted to highlight, so I decided to create an additional post with even more vintage eye candy for you! Come over and take a little virtual junkin’ tour in my Top 10 Booths At The Country Living Fair post for inspiration. See you there!
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