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Antique Lovers From All Over Northeast Swarm South Salem Show

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – Teen sisters Rebecca and Gabriella Stern stopped and regarded a collection of vintage vacation-destination felt pennants spread out on a lawn display with awe.

“These are so cool,” Rebecca said.

The sisters, along with their father, had come from Bedford Hills to attend Antiques in the Churchyard at the Stevens Memorial United Methodist Church. For the Sterns, attending the antique show, held every Fourth of July, has become a traditional family event.

“We’ve been coming here for years – since they were little kids,” said Ken Stern, the girls’ father. “I like Shawnee pottery from Ohio and I’m always on the lookout. I saw some saw earlier that I might get. I also like this because we always meet interesting people.”

The girls said they enjoyed checking out the costume jewelry and the vintage clothing that is widely available at Antiques in the Churchyard.

This year’s Antiques in the Churchyard marks the event’s 20th anniversary.

“It’s our china jubilee,” laughed Pastor Gene Ott of the Stevens Memorial Church. “This is our big fundraiser for the year. We get about 2,000 people and they come from Maryland to Maine, and even from Quebec. We’ve seen those license plates in the parking lot. People come back year after year. It’s part of their lifestyle.”

The church partners with professional show managers Cord Shows Ltd. to put on the event.

“It’s their biggest show,” Ott said.

The church makes most of its money from the $7 it charges for admission, but it also holds a pancake breakfast in conjunction with the antique sale. (Cord Shows receives the fees the antique dealers pay to attend the show.)

By late morning, Ott said he felt that attendance was strong.

“It’s hard to tell right now, but it feels very steady,” he said. “Typically, a Wednesday is a good day for this. When the Fourth of July falls on a weekend, a lot of people are out of town and can’t come.”

Paula Cohen, owner of Your Grandmother Had It, one of the more than 80 vendors on hand, came up from Brooklyn to sell her wares.

“I’ve been coming here for many years,” Cohen said. “It’s a good show. It doesn’t have a ‘flea markety’ feel to it. There’s a nice variety of good-quality merchandise and I like to be a part of that.”

Shell Farber, owner of Rings & Things, came from Broomall, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, to sell at Antiques in the Churchyard for the first time. He said he was a last-minute entrant.

“This is my first time here and it won’t be my last,” he said. “It’s a very nice show and it’s well run. The people are friendly and accommodating."

Farber was offering an eclectic inventory of collectibles, from jewelry to coins to sports memorabilia and other Americana, which included the vintage pennants that charmed the Stern sisters so much.

“It’s all the things I love,” Farber said.

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