FLORIDA’S fairs scene has undergone many subtle changes over half a century and 2017 will be no exception.
The closure of a key venue for refurbishment has thrown the annual winter pilgrimage to the Sunshine State into flux.
For 55 years The Miami Beach Convention Center has been home to the mammoth Original Miami Beach Antique Show (OMBAS) – now the world’s largest indoor antiques show and a mecca for the international jewellery trade.
But, built in an era when Miami Beach was a much sleepier resort town, the building has long been earmarked for renovation. The $600m changes that will provide the space and modern features that the meeting industry now demands are under way but not scheduled for completion until mid-2018.
For this year, and probably the next, organiser US Antique Shows is moving OMBAS to the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center, one of the few remaining public spaces in the region capable of holding a trade event that traditionally numbers around 600 stands.
The 80-acre site has four exhibition halls with multiple entry sites and 4500 parking spaces for the expected 20,000 attendees but, sited around 10 miles west of Coral Gables, the location is imperfect.
Furthermore, moving to a new venue has also forced a change of dates: with the traditional late January slot not available at the Expo Center, the show runs on February 10-13. A few long-standing OMBAS exhibitors have chosen to pass this year.
During the upheaval, a new fair is hoping to steal a march on the competition. In May last year, the Palm Beach Show Group (PBSG) announced the launch of the Miami Beach Jewelry & Antiques Show (yes, it’s easy to get confused) at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach. It brings to three the number of events PBSG will hold in these climes in a matter of four weeks.
The fair now occupies a February 2-5 slot in a prime location and has proved very popular with the core of the US, UK and Continental European jewellery trade – many of which have opted to show at two or more Florida fairs this year.
First proposed as an event for 120 dealers, nearly 200 have now signed up for Deauville Beach including, from London, Hancocks, Symbolic & Chase, Humphrey Butler, Wimpole Antiques and Sandra Cronan.
Together with names of equal stature from continental Europe and the US, they make for an impressive line-up but, unlike the OMBAS, this no longer has the look of an old-school trade show. PBSG will expect to attract the big-spending local clientele that is a hallmark of all successful Florida fairs.
Over the same weekend from February 3-5 will be the second outing for the Miami Antiques + Art + Design Show at the Miami Airport Convention Center (MACC). The organiser is Dolphin Promotions, which has held the Miami National Antiques Show & Sale at the same venue for over 35 years before selling to US Antique Shows.
After a three-year hiatus from the Miami market, during which the ‘airport show’ was closed, the veteran organisers returned with this 100-dealer event last year. Exhibitors for 2017 include two dealers from London: 3B Antiques and jewellery dealer Sue Brown.
A fair held for a couple of years in Boca Raton is a casualty of these changes. But one of the long-running Florida events still anchors the winter season. PBSG’s flagship, the Palm Beach, Jewelry, Art & Antique Show, runs for the 14th year at the Palm Beach County Convention Center from February 15-21. Staged over the Presidents’ Day Holiday Weekend, this is now a seven-day event, having expanded from its former five-day run, and begins with a VIP preview night on February 15.
The 170 exhibitors who stand at this event bring antique furniture, jewellery, Asian antiques and a wide range of fine art. A few big names have been lost but plenty of major UK dealers stand at this show including Richard Green, Trinity House, William Cook, Willow Gallery, Rountree Tryon and Sylvia Powell. Some, such as Cohen and Cohen (Chinese export porcelain) and Michael Goedhuis (Chinese Contemporary art), join the American trade in hot-footing it to Florida direct from New York’s Winter Antiques Show.
Finally, for those still with stock to sell or money to spend, the action finally moves south to the Naples Exhibition Center from February 24-28. Palm Beach Show Group’s 60-exhibitor strong Naples Art, Antique & Jewelry Show is now in its sixth year.