Carry-on luggage, springtime weather, Discovery Channel fans, Nascar great Bill Elliott, best mobile seat in the parade (on the back of a Ford Mustang convertible), country music idol Scotty McCreery, corn hole games, military heroes, Jep Robertson's beard, Budweiser clydesdales, warm and welcoming community, really cool antiques
This list sums up my weekend at the 86th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
I so enjoyed my time in Winchester, Va.
PHOTO PROVIDED -- Dr. Lori Verderame, right, stands with Nascar great, Bill Elliott at the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.
18th century tea caddy worth $4,000 to $6,000.
In addition to Scotty McCreery and the folks from A & E's Duck Dynasty, I am such a big sports fan that I really was star struck when I met Nascar great, Bill Elliott at the Grand Marshall's reception.
Later in the weekend, I laughed a lot with Discovery Channel fans at the grand parade and at my antiques appraisal show. I present my show more than 150 times every year - it's a funny, fact-filled and frank look at art, antiques and collectibles.
I started my Antiques Appraisal Comedy Tour in 1998 in an attempt to educate the public about their heirlooms and flea market finds. I was prompted to take my knowledge to the streets after meeting an elderly woman who had been taken advantage of by an unscrupulous appraiser - he had given her only $50 for a historic document worth $50,000.
He knew what he was buying; she didn't know what she was selling. I never thought I could "save the world" talking about antiques, but I didn't want anyone else losing out on a family heirloom like that woman had.
However, I did think that sharing my education and experience with antiques would help people learn about what might be hiding in their basements, attics, or curio cabinets.
So, I quit my university teaching job, left the world of major museums and have been on the road - hauling carry-on luggage and chatting with TSA agents all over the world - ever since.
In Winchester, just like other places, I discussed the art, antiques, and collectibles brought to "The Bloom." I broke a heart or two and I made some people very, very happy by teaching them how to recognize a valuable antique. I appraised Staffordshire ceramic dogs and highlighted the highly recognizable color of the quality clay from England. I appraised a painting that dated back to the early 1800s and showed the audience how they could tell if a painting was painted by a European or by an American just by looking at one simple area on the back. I appraised a temple rubbing from Thailand on paper and pointed out how the paper fibers will reveal the age of the work. I appraised a piece of Native American pueblo pottery showing the audience its characteristic black-on-black design traits. And I even appraised Bing Crosby's hat.
While I always remember the fans who attend my events, like Dillion, who proved to me that he was a shrewd negotiator when he bargained for some antique ammo at a yard sale. Or Barbara, who didn't mind that her antique shop purchase wasn't all that valuable because she had fun learning about her picture of cherubs anyway. Robert brought a very valuable and quite rare (an attribute that helps make it valuable) piece of scrimshaw in the shape of a powder horn to my appraisal show. The powder horn was decorated by hand by a sailor on the Sally Anne, an early 18th century ship. The ship, based on the scrimshaw, had sailed around the Cape, to Honolulu, Tahiti and beyond the South Pacific, circa 1825. Similar pieces are on display at the maritime museum in New Bedford, Mass. I told Robert that similar pieces have sold for $15,000 to $20,000 on the retail market. Apple Blossom Festival or not, Robert had a good day.
Antiques aside, I learned that the 86th annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival is about more than celebrities, parades and apples. It's about welcoming spring and celebrating the community.
And, in that spirit, one antique took center stage at my appraisal event. It was a beautiful, Scottish tea caddy dating back to the 18th Century. It was a prime example of the importance of tea in our early American culture.
Secured with a lock since tea was a premium commodity, the carved wooden caddy was in fine condition and was worth $4,000 to $6,000. The owners, Jim and his wife, could not have brought a more fitting antique to my appraisal show at the festival. Why was this tea caddy so special? It was an apple!
Ph.D. antiques appraiser, author, and award-winning TV personality, Dr. Lori presents appraisal events to audiences worldwide.