Antiques event in San Juan Bautista

Thousands expected at 53rd annual event on Sunday

VINTAGE DOLLS Sherry Dolfin and Claudia Arnold of Sherry's Adoptable Dolls & Antiques in Hollister prepare for their big day at the San Juan Bautista Antique & Collectibles Fair on Sunday. The duo will be one of more than 75 antique dealers expected at the 53rd annual event in the heart of historic San Juan Bautista.

Collecting is more than a passion for Hollister antiques dealer, Sherry Dolfin.

“It’s an affliction,” said the proprietor of Sherry’s Adoptable Dolls & Antiques at 890 San Benito Street, between smothered bursts of laughter.

Dolfin, and business partner, Claudia Arnold, are preparing for the San Juan Bautista Antique & Collectibles Fair on Sunday. They will be one of at least 75 dealers in the historic town center showcasing their wares.

“We’re taking a lot of jewelry, small furniture, cooking utensils – things that won’t break,” said Dolfin. “We’ll have loads of vintage jewelry from the 1940s to 1960s – some will be even older. We’ll have broaches, earrings, and bracelets. I love the glitz and glamour of that era. When you put a piece of jewelry on, it makes the dress. You can even wear it with jeans.”

The pair will also have a selection of vintage dolls.

“Unlike Barbies, these are works of art,” said Dolfin. “So many people come into the shop and are sent down memory lane.”

Dolfin started collecting dolls when her sister passed away.

“I fell in love with dolls all over again,” she said.

Dolfin first sold at the antique fair in 2008, but her ties to San Juan Bautista run deep; her daughter, Wendy Varga, used to own the Mariposa House Restaurant.

“You get dealers from all over the state and elsewhere,” said Dolfin. “Usually the crowds are 5,000 and more.”

Since 2010, the Rotary Club of San Juan Bautista has been organizing the city’s premier summer event.

“We are small, but mighty,” said Jackie Muñoz, one of the club’s 31 members and a fair volunteer.

The group starts organizing for the fair in January. “To do a really good job on the day we have 40 volunteers,” Muñoz explained. “They get vendors to their spaces on Third Street, help them unpack and make sure all boxes are off the sidewalks because of fire safety laws. Then in the evening, starting at 4 p.m., they help vendors pack up.”

Since the club, which consists of members throughout San Benito County, took over the event, a number of changes have been implemented.

“We decided to give Rotary gift bags to vendors with items including granola bars, water, and candy,” said Muñoz. “We also started asking vendors to save the date for the following year, which has been very successful.”

The club also installed more public restrooms and way finding signs, and brought in an antiques appraiser.

“People bring items when they are not sure of their value,” said Muñoz. The line is always very long. It’s amazing how popular it is.”

What started 53 years ago as a local flea market has grown into one of the largest antique fairs in California.

“Everything is pre-1975,” said event volunteer, Jill Ortiz. “This is strictly antiques – no crafts, new items or flea market stuff.”

“Over the years we’ve had jewelry, glass, large and small furniture, old collector pins and coins, Russian dolls, shabby chic, clothes,” said Ortiz as she recounted the variety of items sold at the one-day fair. “One vendor sells vintage negligees. We’ll have vintage western coming this year. There is also a gal who will bring old Chinese furniture. “

She added: “One year, someone brought old teapots they turned into wind chimes. There are all sorts of really fun stuff.”

The event will also feature live music, food vendors, and local merchants who are eligible to book a space at a reduced cost.

“They can have a space to put things out on the street or they can keep their door open so people can see inside,” explained Muñoz. “We want to bring people to town so merchants and restaurants can profit as well.”

All space rental fees are donated back to the community.

“After expenses all profits go back to the community in the form of grants, scholarships, support for needy families and events such as Lights on Parade. We support a lot of projects in San Juan Bautista and Aromas,” said Ortiz.

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