This isn't good. The 39th annual Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, which opens today, is being held in Massachusetts.
The show, traditionally one of the best venues in the country for early American furniture and accessories, has been held at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford in recent years and would have been again, had that facility not closed late last summer. Karen DiSaia, the show's manager, said organizers wanted to stay in Connecticut and looked at about 30 different venues around the state, from the Oakdale Theatre to the State Armory to prep-school hockey rinks, to no avail, either for scheduling or cost (the reason for ruling out the Connecticut Convention Center).
The Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, home of the Big E, made a good offer in the late fall. With time becoming a factor, the offer was accepted. Proceeds from the show, which this year has dealers from 13 states, support the Haddam Historical Society.
The show will go on at the Big E this year, but then it has to come back where it belongs. "We'd love to find a place in Connecticut," said Ms. DiSaia. And Connecticut would love to have it. Not only does it provide sales tax and rental revenue, it's a perfect fit with the historic New England image this state likes to project to potential tourists.
The show once was held at the State Armory, an excellent place for it. But like other military facilities around the country, the armory was buttoned up after 9/11, which meant no more antiques shows, dog shows, circuses, etc. Other than the inauguration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, there've been no non-military events. Some armories around the country have gone back to hosting public events, and it may be time for a second look here. A few events such as the antiques show and the building will again be self-sustaining.
But if security considerations prevent its use, there's another armory in Hartford that the committee inadvertently overlooked, and that is Foot Guard Hall, the 1888 red-brick Romanesque Revival structure on High Street that was once the center of the city's social life. If the historic building is still sturdy enough, it would seem like an ideal site for the antiques show. But whether there or elsewhere, let's get show back in Connecticut.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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