Cameron readies for antiques fair

Oct. 04, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Today and Saturday, the usually sleepy town of Cameron will have as many antique dealers as permanent residents when the Cameron Antiques Street Fair gears up for the fall edition of the semiannual event.

The autumn fair typically draws 10,000 to 15,000 people, said Cameron Antiques Dealers Association President Larry Coe. It’s been going on for about three decades now, and he said the event shows no signs of slowing down. This year’s fair will officially be on Saturday, although Coe said many vendors will be set up on Friday as well. And like usual, it will take place rain or shine.

“We have it no matter what,” said Coe, who runs This Old House Antiques. “We’ve even had thunderstorms and done it.”

The North Carolina-focused magazine Our State has called Cameron the best place in the state for antiques, according to the local antique group’s website

Anticipating crowds similar to the 15,000 visitors who have shown up in years past, Saturday’s event has more than 250 antiques dealers signed up to hawk their wares, as well as other vendors who will be selling food and drink. Parking will be available at various churches and civic groups throughout the town, which is located off U.S. 1 between Sanford and Southern Pines, on Highway 24-27.

Dianne Taylor-Webb, who runs McPherson’s Store, said she and her staff will remain inside all day, selling antiques as well as the food, tea and local wines she started stocking a few years back. She said the tea in particular has become popular with one group that comes to the street fair in larger numbers than many might expect: soldiers from Fort Bragg.

“A lot of the men have been over in Afghanistan and Iraq, and they got used to drinking tea,” she said. “One of the men told me they did it also to get a little closer to the locals, not be as distant — but now they came back and they still drink it.”

Patty Boaz, from The Market across the street from McPherson’s Store, also said a lot of people from Bragg come up for the fair, and that the wide draw it has is one of her favorite things about the fair.

“A lot of people haven’t been to town before, and this is the way they’re introduced to Cameron,” she said.

And, she added, what an introduction it is.

“It’s great,” she said. “It’s a joyous day. It’s very trying, and its very long, but we’re appreciative of the people who come along. ... It’s a good time. Even the kids enjoy it — it’s just a great day.

It is officially just one day — Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — although Friday will also see a smaller crowd of vendors and visitors. Taylor-Webb said she’s looking forward to running into some familiar faces then.

“We’ve got diehards who come in on Friday and look at the inside of all the shops, and then return on Saturday to check out everything on the street,” she said.

And despite frequent worries about the economy, Taylor-Webb said this festival hasn’t seen too many hard times. In fact, she said, her sales have tripled in the last three years — a sign she said hopefully points to brighter futures for the festival, the town and more.

“An antique is not something you have to have,” she said. “So if we’re doing good, I bet the economy in general is doing better.”