International and Collectors’ Fairs are going under cover – to launch a new fair to run four times next year.
They are returning to Stoneleigh Park, near Warwick, where indoor facilities are now available, and plan two trials at the venue: their popular, one-day, trade-oriented format as held at Newbury Racecourse and Swinderby Airfield on Mondays, and a two-day Friday and Saturday fair.
The organisers' only other weekend fair is their three-day Friday-to-Sunday event at Shepton Mallet, which is increasingly popular with the antiques and vintage-hunting public and held six times a year at the Bath and West Showground.
Within 30 minutes' drive of Birmingham and a motorway network including the M40, Stoneleigh Park, formerly the National Agricultural Centre whose last annual prestigious Royal Show was held in 2009, is now an exhibition centre with two new exhibition halls.
There is also covered space for 1000 drive-in pitches; ideal for furniture dealers who brave the bad weather at outside fairs.
IACF directors Keith Harris and Robert Thomas are very enthusiastic about their plan. "The tremendous facilities at Stoneleigh will allow us to house all exhibitors under cover, making the venue perfect for the autumn and winter months," said Keith.
In their earlier life as DMG Fairs, IACF were running fairs four times a year at Stoneleigh from around 1993 onwards, with the last in 2000.
Robert said: "It's the right time to return to Stoneleigh; not only has the venue changed tremendously, but the climate for buying antiques is so positive right now. The continuing interest in vintage, style and fashion all ensure that younger buyers are ready and eager to buy - a different situation altogether from the antiques slump last time around."
He added: "The fair was a very strong trade event and in 2013, with a new kind of customer base, we look forward to seeing the fair develop and evolve to meets the needs of stallholders and buyers."
This leads one to think that the "in-out, Monday only" format may be another favourite here. Back in 2010, IACF launched this one-day fair format at Swinderby Airfield, having scrapped their two-day fair held on this Lincolnshire site, as well as at Newbury Racecourse.
Both have been hits with the trade ever since, with an extra date added at Swinderby this year.
The trade like the easy-access, one-day, in/out format as dealers can fit the fair into a string of other events they are standing at in the same week, saving on fuel and other costs. On the other hand, with largely public buyers at the weekend, fairs like Shepton Mallet fair have considerably boosted their gate.
The dates for the Stoneleigh Park schedule will be announced later this month.