The annual Lititz Antiques Show will be moving to a new location at the Lititz recCenter for its 2021 show, set for Friday and Saturday, June 25 and 26.
But in reality, it’s not a new location at all.
Back in 1962, the very first Lititz Antiques Show was held at the Lititz Recreation Center. That was the predecessor of the current Lititz recCenter, in the days when the word “recreation” was spelled out and the center was located at the brick building right next to Lititz Springs Park.
It seems that everything old really is new again.
“I haven’t been involved in the antique show quite that long,” says Tom Oehme, who is serving as chairperson this year. “But there could be some people who remember it.”
Oehme is stepping up to organize this year’s show after the death of longtime chairperson Henry Paul last fall. Paul, who was fondly known as “Smitty,” knew everything about antiques and had his own stand at the show over the years, Oehme says.
“It’s very sad to lose Smitty,” Oehme says. “It’s just one more terrible loss during COVID.”
What Oehme does have experience at is planning shows and big events. He is also an organizer for the massive Lititz Rotary Club Craft Show, set for Aug. 14. The Lititz Antiques Show should be a little more manageable than the huge craft show, which attracts thousands to downtown Lititz. Some 40 to 50 dealers are expected at the Lititz Antiques Show.
Oehme got someone younger, yet more experienced with antiques, to help him out with this year’s Lititz Antiques Show. Karl Pass grew up in the antiques business. His mother, Ann Pass, has been an antiques dealer for many years.
Ann Pass will be setting up her exhibit at this year’s show, and she says she is thrilled to be back, with items she calls Pennsylvania country antiques. She is an expert in early American antiques, including fraktur, textiles, pin cushions, samplers, redware, braided mats and trivets. One of her specialties is known as a make-do.
“A make-do is just like how it sounds,” she says. “Back in the old days, when something broke, you didn’t buy a new one. You didn’t take it for repairs or throw it out. You would make do by patching it up as best you could. You might fashion it into something else.”
The Lititz Antiques Show is often a good place to discover intriguing items whose original use is not always easy to figure out. Visitors have been known to find everything from old-fashioned sewing items to animal traps at the show.
Unique treasures found at past shows include an 1890 device that stored ink and pen nibs, a cast-iron beetle-shaped boot pull, a miniature hand-held iron known as the Pearl, a metal foot warmer box, a “toaster” with slats to toast bread, a wooden mousetrap and a giant cranberry bog scoop.
The show also features plenty of recognizable objects like wooden bowls, hand-carved cabinets, tin candleholders and blanket chests. They all have their own rich history, and offer a glimpse into the way people lived 100 or 200 years ago, or even longer ago.
“You are bound to find all sorts of things at the show,” Karl Pass says. “It’s fascinating to see what dealers bring.”
It seems that everyone else — dealers and antiques collectors — are excited that the show is back after the 2020 COVID-19 shutdown. During the past year, dealers had to give up traveling the antique show circuit. For many of them, selling antiques is their livelihood. For others, it is a favorite pastime.
“I believe this will be the first show of the 2021 season. We are so happy to be back,” says Wayne Wilhide, who has been a dealer at the show since 1984.
Wilhide sells blue decorated stoneware, redware, quilts, coverlets and “smalls,” which can be anything from butter prints to cookie cutters. The items he collects herald another time, when women stitched their own quilts and coverlets, and butter was presented with a pretty floral or other motif printed on top.
Wilhide remembers when the Lititz Antiques Show was held at John R. Bonfield Elementary School. Later, it moved to Warwick Middle School.
Another longtime dealer, Cheryl Mackley of York County, hasn’t missed a show in some 40 years, except for one year — and 2020, of course. Mackley has a collection of antique textiles, including early linens and quilts. She also has other country antiques and holiday decorations.
“It will be wonderful to be back. I am ready to be out and about, and to get back to a more normal life,” Mackley says.
Due to Pennsylvania Department of Education COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 antiques show could not be held at a school. Since organizers were not quite sure what to expect in June, Oehme decided to check around for another location. As it turned out, the new location at the Lititz recCenter took the show full circle and back to its origins.
A good cause
The first Lititz Antique Show in 1962 took place right after the Lititz Historical Foundation acquired the Johannes Mueller House. The plan was to restore the 1792 home on East Main Street to its early years, with artifacts that might have been in the house at that time. It would take a lot of work to create a living history museum that depicted everyday life in the 18th century. No one was quite sure how to pay for it.
Lititz Historical Foundation member Mildred McElroy came up with the perfect solution when she suggested an antique show to raise funds for the care and upkeep of the Johannes Mueller House. Her idea became the basis of the Lititz Antiques Show, which now helps to fund the Lititz Historical Foundation’s properties, including the Johannes Mueller House, the Lititz Museum and the Mary Oehme Gardens, in memory of Tom Oehme’s mother.
“This should be the 59th antique show, but of course, we lost a year, just like everyone did. So, we are all very happy to present the 58th annual Lititz Antiques Show at the Lititz recCenter,” Oehme says.
Back to where it all began.