Round Top, an otherwise sleepy, rural town between Austin and Houston, transforms into an international design destination for its twice-yearly antique show. Antique dealers and junkin’ fanatics from all over the world set up tents and booths to sell their wares. If you’ve been before, you know that the shows can be a tad intimidating—an estimated 100,000 shoppers descend on the three-week fair that includes more than 50 shows and roughly 20 miles of dealers. If you’re a first-timer (or want some more curated ideas for your next trip), read up on where to shop, stay, dine, and sip.
Get The Dirt
Dallas designer Ike Isenhour’s biannual pilgrimages to Round Top resulted in a fan club of sorts. “I convinced some friends from the Dallas design community to come to a show last fall. They liked it so much and saw how much their design communities were represented there that they decided to get an annual group together and enjoy the show,” he says. The group DIRT (Dallas Designers in Round Top) was born. At this past spring’s show, Isenhour gathered Jean de Merry’s Kelsey Ann Haley, designer Jeffrey Johnson, Ann Carpenter and Justine Batiste from the Stone Boutique, Baron Farha from Brendan Bass, Verona Martinez with Verona Prive Maison, and Christian Walker, a designer with Joseph Minton—as well as D Home editors—to shop and network. Here, Isenhour and Haley share their well-edited guide for spending 72 hours at this fall’s antique fair.
How to get there: Drive south on I-35 to Waco and veer off on highway 77 straight into Round Top. The trip will take about 3 hours. Make sure your car has plenty of space for the goods you’re about to buy. Or buy a trailer: “I enjoy it so much that I have completely redone a travel trailer that is kept on a family farm for grandkids,” says Isenhour.
What to pack: It’s still hot during the fall shows, so be sure to pack accordingly. “Bring cash and a chic outfit with comfy shoes, bug spray, sunscreen, and a big hat,” says Haley.
Where to shop: Round Top is divided into multiple tents and shows, and each has its own specialties and aesthetics. After doing your show date and map research, make your plan. Haley and Isenhour recommend the Arbor International Antiques & Interior Design Show (Sept. 20-30), the Marburger Farm Antique Show (Sept. 26-30), Blue Hills (Sept. 16-30), North Gate Field (Sept. 15-Oct. 1), and The Compound (Sept. 16-30). But if you’re there to dig for treasures, “the real experience is at the fields [in Warrenton]. I bought an amazing piece of contemporary art at Ex-Cess,” Isenhour says. Pro tip: If you spend a day shopping in Warrenton, we recommend bringing a small cart or wagon to store your finds.
Where to eat: “It’s important to know that each of the venues has plenty of food options. Even in North Gate, there is a sandwich and salad tent with fresh food options. I had this tremendous fear before I went that this would be one of those ‘whole turkey leg’ venues. Nothing could be further from the truth,” says Isenhour. Royers Round Top Cafe (105 Main St., 979-249-3611) is known for its pie (we suggest the Sweet ‘N Salty slice) and serves up steaks, burgers, and comfort dishes like shrimp and grits. Reservations are needed during show weekends. Two Birds Cafe at Bader Ranch (470 S. Washington St., 830-426-6453) opens up during the shows and offers breakfast (gourmet coffee and pastries), lunch (healthy salads and bánh mi), and dinner (chef’s rotating menu every night).
Where to wind down: “Everyone gathers at Prost Wine Bar & Patio (112 Bauer Rummel., 979-249-5981) at the end of the day for wine and bites and delightful talk,” says Haley.
Don’t miss: The Junk-O-Rama Prom hosted by the Junk Gypsies on Thursday, Oct. 5, at Zapp Hall. “It’s a long-standing tradition. You swig bottles of Veuve while dancing the night away to the beat of the ’70s with your 2,000 new friends dressed in vintage prom attire,” says Haley.