Treasure hunting at Bouckville

The Madison Bouckville Antiques Show has been one of my favorite local events for years, ever since I tagged along with my best friend and her mom as a teenager. I love antiques shops and flea markets. My favorite booths are the ones that are packed chock full of a variety of interesting things, with seemingly endless potential for discovering treasure. The Madison Bouckville show (or as we locals call it, simply “Bouckville”) nearly shut down for good last year after the owners of the main event sold the land. However, some determined locals who realized how important the event is, worked together to make sure the show returned for its 40th year.

One big change to the main event is that admission is now free! Early birds can pay to access the show on dealer-only days, or before 10:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is entirely free. Parking in the main field is $5.00 per vehicle, a real bargain if you carpool. There are also other parking options locally that range from free to $4.00 if you don’t mind walking a little bit farther (they don’t provide free tractor rides like the main field does). As always, there are free off-shoot antiques shows and a plethora of food vendors serving up everything from hamburgers and hotdogs to blooming onions, cream puffs and lobster near the site of the main show.

I packed a lunch for Mr. Boy and myself, and we set off to browse the main event. Though there were some rumbles of thunder at first, we were fortunate that the weather held out for us. Mr. Boy was a great sport and happily followed me around the various tents as I browsed for things I didn’t know I needed. He was very interested in clocks, pedal cars and dogs. As for me, I saw what I wanted to buy as soon as I walked in the gate:


I hemmed and hawed, walked away several times, tried to talk some sense into myself and even resorted to asking Mr. Boy for his input. But, alas, I now have this in my living room:

It’s an absolutely darling handcrafted bungalow style dollhouse, and I knew I could never live with myself if I left it there. The attention to detail is amazing. It’s perfectly scaled and the worn paint and grime make it look even more realistic (though I will fix it up eventually).

I have a “thing” for bungalows, and would love to live in a real one someday. It just so happens that the interior layout of this dollhouse is virtually identical to a house my husband and I fell in love with recently (sadly, our offer wasn’t accepted).

It’s a little bit unusual in that the top lifts off to reveal the interior or the first floor. The second floor has a hinged roof to reveal the bedrooms. The downstairs rooms are adorned with tiny hand drawn artwork, including a minuscule little calendar in the kitchen that reads “January 1924”, with the 24th highlighted in red. Maybe the recipient’s birthday? The date the dollhouse was completed? Bungalows were very popular in the 1920’s, so it could certainly date back that far. I wish so badly that I knew the story behind this little house!

If you go to an event like this, it definitely pays to haggle. I wasn’t prepared to spend a lot today, and the price tag on the dollhouse was more than I was comfortable with spending. On my third trip back to the booth, I asked the vendor if he could do any better on the price. He offered to drop it $10. I told him that I wanted to get another look at it. While I was carefully examining the house, he offered an even lower price, which I would have considered…but it was so close to my ideal price, I figured I might as well offer what I was thinking and see if he would go even lower. He accepted my offer, lopping off 26% of the asking price!  Who knows, maybe he bought the thing for $5 and still made a whopping profit, but I felt that I paid a fair price. I do have to admit that haggling kind of rubs against the grain of my personality, but if I really want something all bets are off. It can never hurt to ask!

As for Mr. Boy, his treasures consisted of two grimy stones he found in the grass (which I happily allowed him to pick up and carry because they kept his hands off of more fragile items), and a toy car that he scored for free from one vendor because he looked cute and was well behaved.

We had such an enjoyable time. It seemed like everyone was in good spirits, from the vendors to the workers to the patrons, and we found ourselves chatting with complete strangers quite a few times.

If you go:

The 2011 festival runs through August 21st. Admission is free after 10:00 a.m. You can find more information on the Madison Bouckville Antique Festival website.

Sunscreen and comfortable walking shoes are must-haves. Save money by bringing your own food and drink (wheeled coolers are permitted). You may also want to bring along shopping totes or even wheeled luggage if you expect to buy a lot. ATMs are available on-site if you need some extra cash, but the fees are hefty.

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