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• LAURITZEN GARDENS ANTIQUES SHOW

in its 15th anniversary year the lauritzen gardens antiques show features engaging speakers and exceptional antiques dealers and exhibitors. organizers are proud of the reputation they’ve built not only for presenting an enjoyable event, but also providing top-notch hospitality. “When we started this out, Kim (Lauritzen) and I said we wanted it to be the way charitable events used to be, where we have a committee of friends—and new people to bring into it—who would enjoy one another and plan a beautiful event,” Lauritzen Gardens Antiques Show co-founder and honorary chair Mary Seina said. “We wanted it to be pleasant, not so serious.” Serious funds have been raised, however. The annual four-day September event, which is planned and executed by volunteers, has brought in a total of $6.75 million for Omaha’s botanical center since 2004. Diny Landen, who heads the show’s vision committee, said a strategic plan is in place that looks five years ahead; show planning and executing takes place throughout the year and work begins for the next show almost as soon as the last one ends. “This show has garnered a reputation to be one of the best antique shows and weekend events in the country. We work really hard to make sure that we keep that up, but also that we stay relevant for new people coming in and for younger people with interest,” Landen said at a summer planning meeting with general chairs Mary Johnson and Mimi Post (Seina’s daughter) at Seina’s home. “We’ve had a lot of fun!” honorary chair Cindy Bay said. “That’s one of the great things about this: the camaraderie, the friendships and working together.”

Among friends It really is a committee of friends, like the founders envisioned. It’s also fitting that the close friendship between Kimball “Kim” Bowles Lauritzen and Mary Seina was one of the very seeds that helped the first Antiques Show bloom in 2004 and raise more than $200,000. “She was fabulous,” Seina said of the legacy of her friend, who died of cancer in 2008. “And she was a great fundraiser.” Lauritzen also happened to be a gifted advocate and recruiter, Bay said. “Kim brought me in just to help raise a little bit of money. And each year I helped her do a few phone calls,” she explained. Thanks to Lauritzen’s gentle persistence, by 2007, Bay found herself committed to the event for the long term as an honorary chair alongside Seina, and she has served in the role since. As her surname suggests, Lauritzen’s family was a big supporter of the former Omaha Botanical Center that began in the mid-1990s and ultimately carried the family’s name. “Kim had this dream of Lauritzen Gardens,” Post said. “And her husband and family continued to make this dream grow,” Seina added. “They’re very supportive of our show.” It’s an especially exciting year for the Lauritzen Gardens Antiques Show. Organizers are celebrating its 15th anniversary, a new logo, a schedule of compelling speakers and high-caliber vendors and exhibitors, and a reputation for presenting one of the best shows on the circuit. In a decade and a half, the show has expanded to four days of events offering a greater number of activities, providing more educational seminars and appealing to a broader audience than ever. The 2018 events will kick off with a preview party on Thursday, Sept. 20, and featured speakers include acclaimed interior designer and author Miles Redd on Friday, author and self-proclaimed “serial entertainer” Steven Stolman on Saturday, and Master Sommelier and restauranteur Matt Stamp on Sunday. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and a full schedule of events and exhibitor listing is available at OmahaAntiqueShow.org.

Welcoming atmosphere Bringing in nationally and internationally known speakers has become easier over the years, Landen said. “In the early days, it was ‘You want me to go where? Omaha?’” she said. “Now we have speakers encouraging others…We’ve had so many wonderful speakers.” 28

Some exhibitors have participated since the beginning, like Tony Scornavacco (Anthony Scornavacco Antiques), Graham Arader with Arader Galleries, and Coulee Oriental Rugs. “There are dealers that have been with us a long time and they have a clientele they have developed in Omaha,” Landen said. “But we are also careful every year to bring in new dealers.” In addition to the longstanding offerings visitors have come to expect, this year’s show will feature mid-century merchandise, antique linens, French art glass, and Asian furniture and accessories. A variety of price points help ensure “there’s something for every collector,” Landen said. Any given show takes around 90 volunteers between the planning committee and the event staff, plus members of the Lauritzen Gardens team. Nearly 500 volunteers who have stepped up since 2004 have made the show run smoothly, Seina said. Many volunteers are returnees and some volunteers, like Phyllis Choat, Nancy Whitted, Fran Dowd and Judy Clark, come back year after year. “They have run the hospitality room since the very first show,” Seina said. “Antique exhibitors run back to that room to see them when they get here.” “Our exhibitors, our dealers, love coming to this show,” Landen added. “We want them to do well and develop these relationships.” Some dealers known to be very selective choose Omaha’s show and only one or two others, Bay said, because they feel so comfortable and welcome here. “We take good care of them,” she explained. Johnson and Post both said they have noticed a stark difference in how their team treats participants compared to the standards of other antiques shows across the country. “It just fills you with a sense of pride that we do this well compared with other, huge cities that have a large following,” Johnson said. “We have great hospitality; it’s a little step above,” Seina said.

Unique treasures The organizers and volunteers enjoy participating as shoppers and hearing the presenters, Seina added. As the show has expanded and provided more activities, they’re now seeing a more diverse group of attendees, too. “You don’t have to leave Omaha to find these great items and unique treasures for your home. After a show weekend, you can feel like you were shopping in Europe or shopping in New York City because you cannot find these specialty items here,” Bay said. “You have everybody under one roof for a long weekend, with a huge diversity and variety, and it’s a fun atmosphere.” Post said she sees attendees who have made the event a family tradition. It’s a trend among the planning committee and volunteers, too. “We have this group of incredible, amazing women who start probably in our 30s and go up to…” (The assembled group began to laugh.) “Go up,” she said. Seriously, though: “We have this great group of women who are all ages and we get along. You don’t see that many places.” Landen said the show has attracted more than 57,000 attendees, with about twothirds from the local area and the rest from other communities and even distant states. “It really has a wonderful regional draw,” Landen said, adding that the antiques show not only raises money for Lauritzen Gardens, the show’s events all take place there. “It’s nice for the Gardens. You bring people to the show and you also introduce them to Lauritzen Gardens.” “The Gardens to me is a beautiful 100-acre oasis that is continuously growing and changing. That’s very exciting,” Bay said. “I love the Gardens and I love antiques,” Seina said. “This show, to me, is heaven on earth. And it all started, and it continues to be done, with my dear friend. How could it be better than this?” mmagazine • aUgUST 2018

metroMAGAZINE’s AUGUST 2018 Issue  

ALH Publications, Inc. presents metroMAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the...

metroMAGAZINE’s AUGUST 2018 Issue  

ALH Publications, Inc. presents metroMAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 online now! metroMAGAZINE is published quarterly by ALH Publications, serving the...