For Fenton glass collectors, there's no place like home.
This weekend, collectors of all types from all over the country will converge on Marietta and Williamstown, the home of Fenton Art Glass, for the 21st annual National Fenton Glass Society convention and The Glass and Antique Show.
"For my husband and I, this is our vacation each year," said Claire Kauffung, who, along with husband, Alan, co-chairs the convention committee.
ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times
Tom and Scott McNamara of Bluffton, Ind., stand with their display of Fenton glassware Wednesday at Tomlinson Park in Williamstown. The family, including Tom’s wife, Brenda (not shown), is in town for the 21st annual National Fenton Glass Society convention, which runs Saturday through Monday at the Comfort Inn in Marietta. The McNamaras will also have displays at the convention.
Around 200 people are expected to come for the convention, which will be held at the Comfort Inn on Pike Street in Marietta Saturday through Monday.
Among those who will be on hand for the event are Tom and Brenda McNamara and their son, Scott, who drove from Bluffton, Ind., with about one-third of their 6,000-piece collection of Fenton glass.
"We've been coming for about four or five years," said Tom McNamara, who had pieces for sale at Tomlinson Park in Williamstown Wednesday.
If you go
* What: The Marietta Glass and Antique Show.
* Where: Washington County Fairgrounds, Marietta. Vendors will be set up under the roller rink and along the parking lot.
* When: Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for inside vendors, until dark for others; early buying today from noon to 6 p.m.
* Cost: Free.
* For exhibitor information: Tiffany Gohlke, (614) 962-2323.
* What: 21st annual National Fenton Glass Society convention.
* Where: Comfort Inn, 700 Pike St., Marietta.
* When: Saturday through Monday; auction of 244 pieces will be held Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Williamstown High School cafeteria. Seminars and displays are open to the public.
Hotel reservations and convention registration is on-going for members.
* For more information and a schedule of events: www.nfgs.org.
Special events, including a ride on The Valley Gem, are planned for members and guests; however, seminars, displays and an auction on Saturday evening are all free and open to the public.
"On Saturday morning we will have some retired Fenton artists coming to speak and on Sunday George and Nancy Fenton will talk about what's next," said Kauffung, referring to a recent announcement that Fenton would cease traditional glass production.
The news hit many collectors hard, including Tiffany Gohlke, a dealer and organizer of the glass show, which will return to the fairgrounds and is set to coincide with the other glass events this weekend.
"It's just sad," said Gohlke, choking up. "I grew up going to the factory. It means a lot to the community."
There will be at least 50 vendors at the event, which returns to the Washington County fairgrounds after being held at Marietta College the past few years.
"It just belongs back where it started," Gohlke explained, adding that the fair board was instrumental in bringing the show back to where it began two decades ago.
"Some of the best finds in glassware have been here at the fairgrounds and we'll have everything -antiques, Hummels, Waterford crystal - anything from $1 all the way up to thousands (of dollars)."
Those wishing to learn a little more about the value or history of their Fenton or other types of glass are welcome to bring pieces to a seminar on Monday morning at the Comfort Inn. Current Fenton decorators will also be on hand earlier Monday morning to demonstrate their craft.
Other events include displays from NFGS members and an auction of close to 300 pieces, which will be held Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Williamstown High School cafeteria.
What the future holds for these types of events in the area remains unclear, according to Kauffung.
"We get a lot of questions and we just keep looking at the (Fenton) website for any news," she said.
McNamara said the changes at the company were sad and he was a bit hesitant to believe it.
"If it's true, I feel sorry because it really is a lost art. A lot of these collectors started with pieces handed down from grandma, you know. Now there won't be any new pieces being handed down," he said.
For Gohlke, organizing the glass and antique show is a labor of love and she hopes that younger generations will become interested.
"This is something that just has to keep going. And it will if I have anything to do with it," she said.