Sen. Linares’ Bill Would Help Fund Spring Antiques Show [Hartford Courant]

March 7, 2014

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

Bill Would Help Fund Spring Antiques Show

By ERIK HESSELBERG, Special to The Courant

The Hartford Courant
1:02 PM EST, March 7, 2014

HADDAM – Terry Smith, president of the Haddam Historical Society, is thrilled that the society’s annual fund-raiser – the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show – is once again returning to the State Armory in Hartford.

The prestigious exhibit of pre-1840s antiques, which takes place March 22 and 23, features 65 exhibitors from around the Northeast. The show returned to the Armory last year after a 10-year hiatus.

But Smith said the operating costs for running the show at the armory are three times higher than the previous venue, Eastern States Exposition Center in Springfield, Mass.

So he’s looking to the legislature for help.

State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, whose district includes Haddam, has introduced a bill seeking funds to cover operational costs for the antiques show while the society explores other ways to meet these costs.

“The Connecticut Spring Antiques Show is a great event,” Linares said. “We want to make sure it stays in Hartford and that the Haddam Historical Society has the funds to sustain itself.”

The bill calls for $50,000 to be appropriated to the state Department of Economic and Community Development from the general fund for fiscal year 2015 to cover operating expenses. These include rental costs and police and fire marshal expenses for the weekend event.

A hearing was held Thursday on the bill, which Linares hopes will be approved during the current legislative session, which ends in May.

Smith, who is also the antiques show’s treasurer, said the money is not a handout. He said an economic impact study showed that the spring antiques show generated between $80,000 to $300,000 for the Hartford area last year. “The funds will give us three years of operational costs while we get on our feet,” he said.

The Connecticut Spring Antiques Show, now in its 41st year, was traditionally held in the State Armory until the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001, when the building became off limits to the public. For nearly a decade, the show was held at the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford. When the Expo Center was sold, the antiques show had to scramble and in 2012 it moved across the Massachusetts border to the Eastern States Exposition Center. Last year, organizers reached a deal to return to Hartford.

The Saturday and Sunday show features museum-quality early American furniture, ceramics, silver, paintings, prints and textiles. Exhibitors set up in the armory’s vast drill shed, showing their wares in room-like settings. Some pieces have been known to sell for six figures, but organizers say there are more modestly priced items.