IACF Ardingly is nearly 50 and IACF Alexandra Palace approaches its 30-year milestone this year. As well as these fairs’ staying power, three team members at IACF recently celebrated 25 years working for the company.
Well known to many ATG readers is Rachel Everett, IACF’s operations director, while the other staff members passing their quarter century of service are Jenny Osbourne, who is office-based at IACF’s Newark HQ, and Kevin White, who as clerk of works is a familiar face to stallholders and fairgoers.
Talking to ATG about her career, Everett said: “I started working for IACF in March 1993. I won’t tell you how old I was because it was too long ago to remember.”
She had just finished a degree in French and Spanish and was “delighted to find a job that made use of my languages”.
“Meeting and speaking to so many Continental dealers is still one of the best parts of my job,” she said.
“I began at the bottom, as office receptionist, but very soon found myself going to fairs. I have been the operations manager for over 15 years and still get an incredible buzz seeing an event coming together.”
The fairs have changed “dramatically over the years”, Everett said. It used to take a full 14 hours to get all the dealers onto their pitches at Newark and “the traffic on the runway was a sight to behold”.
She added: “On one memorable occasion I was checking vehicles driving into the showground and could hear nationwide traffic bulletins on the car radios as they went past, telling people not to go within 50 miles of Newark-on-Trent because the traffic was at a complete standstill.”
The nature of the business is quite different today, Everett said, with dealers able to buy and sell in so many ways.
“I do lament the lack of younger people coming into this amazing industry, but it is clear there is still a huge appetite for antiques,” she added. “Exhibitors are having to adapt very quickly to this changing landscape; their resilience and overriding optimism is as strong as ever and long may this continue.
“The fairs, like the antiques, have an enduring attraction that has kept some of us here at IACF for over a quarter of a century”.