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Vito Sico | Liberty Antiques Festival
Vito Sico | Liberty Antiques Festival
Q: When is the Liberty Antiques Festival, and how long has it been around?
It started 25 years ago in 1991. We host it twice a year on the last Friday and Saturday of April and September.
Q: About how many vendors do you have, and what's the attendance like?
We have more than 375 dealers from all over the country. We literally have vendors that come in from Texas, Ohio, Florida, and all up and down the East Coast. About half are from North Carolina. Some have been coming twice a year for 12 to 14 years in a row now, so we must be doing something right. We open the gates from 8 am until 4 pm, and we usually have way over 1,000 people waiting in line when we open. We have shoppers that come from all over the the state and the country - about 10,000 of them over the each two-day period.
Q: It's really impressive to have so many dealers and such high attendance each time. What do you think makes it so special that people are willing to travel so far to attend?
It's not your typical antique show, and that's why I call it a festival. It's really fun! We have great food including Italian, Chinese, Greek, barbecue, and desserts, along with hot dogs and hamburgers. Because we always sell out our vendor spaces, we only take vendors that are nice - people that we like! We've all become friends and it's important that we are all happy people...life is too short to have grouchy people around you. People always talk about what a good time they had, and how they met new friends. That's why they keep coming back!
Q: Do you do the show on your own and how did it start?
I work with my wife, Mary Ellen, and our partner, Janet. Janet owns the land that the festival is on. The land used to be an old dairy farm and it has been in her family since the Civil War. I moved to the area about 40 years ago when my father-in-law moved to the area. The short story is that I walked into the grocery market one day to buy a gallon of milk, and I met a real estate agent. I said that I'd like a barn or a place to store all of my junk, and the next thing you know I was here.
Q: What's your background, and how did you get into antiques?
I went to art school, and I was in advertising first, but it all started with a yard sale I went to. It was popular to buy old furniture and paint it to make it look like it was old - even if it wasn't. So I bought a couple of night stand tables for about $5 each and I painted them green or blue and put some burnt umber stain over them to make them look aged. I would resell the pieces for twice what I paid. It was easy and I loved it. Immediately I was hooked so I went from garage sale to yard sale and just kept doing it. I quit my day job in the early 1970s, and became a dealer. When I moved to Liberty, I knew I had to do something in the area eventually. After we met Janet and she had the land, we cleared the cow pasture and now we have the festival with two huge outdoor circus tents. The rest is history, so to speak.
Q: Is there a certain thing you specialize in at the show? What kinds of things can people expect to find there?
We really have a bit of everything! It's amazing the variety of things we have and because people travel so far they bring really good stuff. Some people bring really old stuff that is getting harder and harder to find like things from the 18th century. We have so much from the 18th to 20th centuries - lots of furniture, dolls, toys, vintage jewelry, vintage clothing, Art Deco items, and on and on. We have lots of unusual items that you don't see just anywhere. People really just have to come check it out for themselves and see what the festival is all about!