Friday, February 12, 2010

One Month till Show Time! What’s Your Best Ever Buy from the Dolly Johnson Show?

Today is one month to show time for the 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show March 12 -13. Let’s do some "show and tell." 

This is your invitation to write a comment (see comment button below—it won’t bite). Tell us about your absolutely favorite best ever buy at the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show.

The photo here comes from Lisa Hull, owner of diGs (artifacts for the home), which is a delightful new booth at Montgomery Street Antique Mall, aisle 7, in Fort Worth. Lisa writes, “Here are the chairs that I bought at last year’s Dolly Johnson Show. I know now that you are a ‘chair’ person…By the way, I loved the invitation/announcement to the show. It was stunning. I look forward to seeing you at the show.”

So send words, send photos, tell us your treasures!

For some, this will be easy, like the magazine editor who confided to me this week that she found her “best score ever--- a pair of 1940s Olsen-Stelzer cowboy boots and matching belt--- at the Dolly Johnson show many years ago.”

For others, it’s going to be hard. I think of people who have bought something wonderful every year of the show and have 46 prior prizes. You know who you are.

I think of my friends William and Laura who probably won’t tell us their favorite, but it’s a long list of possibilities. William is famously always the first person in line for the show.

I think of my friend Linda, who year after year looks for the artwork of her uncle, BJ Lore, illustrator of the program covers for the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show and Rodeo for decades. She came to my booth, so discouraged. “I’ll never find anything.” In the very next booth, she found a 1930s Texas elementary school reader with illustrations by her uncle—for $5.

My own favorite buy at the Dolly Johnson Show cost quite a bit more than that and I ended up buying it, selling it and then buying it back. But that’s another story. Stay tuned.

For now, one month from the show, what marvelous and wonderful thing did you buy at the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show?
And, if you have to, you can tell us about the one that got away!

For show info and a discount coupon coming soon, see

Mayfest Makes a Comeback – The Tradition Continues!

At the March 12-13 Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, visit the Benefit Booth which supports Mayfest 2010. Today I spoke with Mary Kaye Juran who is coordinating the Benefit Booth, along with all of her other volunteer leadership for Mayfest. Her vision is a booth filled with flowers, plants, antiques, art and Mayfest memorabilia, all for sale to help Mayfest return on April 29 – May 2, 2010.

“I’m growing violets,” says Mary Kaye of her plan to sell live violets planted in antique dishes and pots—including teapots, mis-matched antique china and other vintage containers. But growing violets is (hopefully) an easy task compared to her responsibility for coordinating all the shuttles and buses at Mayfest, as well as heading up the event’s headquarters. “On some days that means three meals a day for the Mayfest Committee and their families—that’s feeding about 150 a day. I’m going to start cooking early.”

What is Mayfest and why is the Dolly Johnson Show supporting it?

Mayfest is a four day festival along the Trinity River in Fort Worth that attracts over 200,000 participants in activities for all ages. As Mary Kaye puts it, “Mayfest is an important contribution to the community. It gets all aspects of the city involved together and it’s truly a family activity. You’ll see three and four generations of a family coming to Mayfest together.”

Mayfest runs this year from Thursday April 29 to Sunday May 2. Over 33 acres of fun will include seven stages of live entertainment, bringing in over 5,000 performers ranging from musical groups of all kinds to dancers, folklorico, karate, ballet, clogging and more. There will be every kind of food, arts and gifts vendors, plus games and activities, such as the ever-awaited Great American Duck Race and the Mayfest Haunted House.

Mayfest is a partnership between these groups: The Junior League of Fort Worth, Streams and Valleys, The City of Fort Worth Parks and Community Services Department and the Tarrant Regional Water District. Their stewardship of the event raises funds for community programs and, to date, has returned $5.8 million to community needs in Fort Worth and for enhancing the Trinity River and surrounding parks. This year, Streams and Valleys is working to extend bike trails for public use and to provide the Fort Worth Police Department with a patrol vehicle sized just right for a hiking trail.

The Trinity River, which runs through the heart of Fort Worth,  was not always as beautiful as it is today. In the 1960s various flood control ideas had turned the river into a mess of ugly floodways and ditches full of litter and debris. In 1969, a group of citizens founded Streams & Valleys in order to clean up the river and to encourage recreation and enjoyment of this unique civic asset.

The power of citizens working together paid off. By 1973 the Trinity River and surrounding parkland had fresh flowing water, 8,000 new trees and 40 miles of river trails for hiking and exercise. Even the fish and wildlife returned. A celebration of the rebirth of the Trinity River led to the annual community riverfront festival called Mayfest, now 37 years strong.

In 2009, just as the Mayfest was preparing to open, uncertainty about the H1N1 Flu Virus led to the closing of the festival, along with school closures and cancellation of other events planned in the city. The financial cost of the sudden closure was enormous. Once again, a partnership among citizens, business, government and generous donors has worked all year to raise the funds needed to bring Mayfest back on April 29 through May 2, 2010.

The 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show is delighted to be a part of this effort. In addition to providing a Benefit Booth, the show has donated 1,000 show tickets for Mayfest volunteers to sell in the month of February, with 100% of those proceeds going directly to Mayfest.

We also have worked closely with area antique shops who have generously donated art, antiques and gift certificates to be sold in the Benefit Booth. So far, those donors include:

Benbrook Antique Mall
Camp Bowie Mercantile
Carter Bowden Antiques
K. Flories Antiques
Montgomery Street Antique Mall
Mosley’s Memories Estate Sales
Old Home Supply
Pease-Cobb Antiques
RetroMania Antiques
Simple Things

Of course many of the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show exhibitors will also put some Flower Power behind Mayfest by contributing antiques and art, including yours truly, Hot Tamale Antiques---and all of her friends. To contribute, email me at JanOH4(at)aol(dot)com

The photo here shows Kitty Welch of the Mayfest office with one of the prints that will be for sale at the booth. These magnificent signed and numbered bird prints were created by Fort Worth artists Scott and Stuart Gentling several years ago, as a gift for Mayfest. Now their gift will help Mayfest recover and return as a jewel in the crown on the cowgirl hat of Fort Worth, Texas. See all about Mayfest at

Get lucky and you could win free tickets to Mayfest for your family as one of the door prizes at the Friday March 12 Happy Hour Party from 4-7 pm at the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, which will soon be here.

Welcome back, Mayfest! The Tradition Continues!
See Show Info and Happy Hour Party Plans at

Hello, Dolly! Who the heck was Dolly Johnson?

First there was Dolly Madison, then Dolly Parton, then Dolly Johnson. Or was it the other way around? And now, in Dallas, there’s even a shop called Dolly Python! What is it with all the these Dollys?

The late Dolly Johnson, the founder of our show, was a mid-twentieth century character in Fort Worth, Texas. Though tiny, she had a big Texas personality and a bigger Texas heart. Together with her husband Rip Johnson, Dolly and Rip brought energy, excitement and passion to everything they touched. They loved Fort Worth and Fort Worth loved them.

Rip was the General Manager of Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum for many years. He brought fresh new entertainment to Fort Worth—the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ice Capades, major musical acts and more. Perhaps you have driven on Rip Johnson Way, the road named for him at Will Rogers Memorial Center today. Rip brought ice hockey to Fort Worth, including my yankee hockey player, Tom Harter.

I call Dolly “a character” because people of all ages, from many places have told me that they knew Dolly Johnson and that they have never known anyone else like her. Their very first words about her tend to recount a late night event or phone call. Apparently Dolly had a light-hearted view of time. The middle of the night was fair game for friendship, visits and phone calls. She was a character and she had character. I wish that I had known her.

In the show archives I found a yellowed newspaper, the very first volume of Antique News & Views. It had eight pages and two of them told the story of Dolly Johnson taking a group of Texas friends to the very first Heart of Country Antiques Show in Nashville in 1982. The article begins: “Dolly Johnson is a petite, fun-loving 19 year veteran Antique Show manager from Ft. Worth, Texas.”

Nineteen years? A photo with the article shows Dolly with antiques author Mary Emmerling who is described by the reporter as “shockingly youthful.” When Mary Emmerling was just starting out and when Heart of Country was born, Dolly Johnson had already been producing her show in Fort Worth for 19 years. Emma Lee Turney came to do one of Dolly’s shows in order to learn how to start her own show in Round Top, Texas in 1968.

Dolly Johnson never met an estate sale where she couldn’t find some treasure. The collections mounted and filled her new Tanglewood home in Fort Worth. There were quilts and coverlets, found locally and on trips back east. There was plain, primitive, bench-made furniture, very unlike the furniture that most people wanted in post-war America. There was a collection of tiny graniteware child and doll pots and pans and dishes. On and on, the list of well-loved antiques grew each year of Dolly’s life.

In the early 60s, Rip, ever the promoter, dared Dolly to start an antique show. She took him up on it and produced her first show in the spring of 1963. Her focus was American antiques. This was before women’s lib and years before the 1976 Bi-Centennial would light the Americana market aflame.

Influenced by the Dolly Johnson Antique Show, an active group of collectors began to emerge in Fort Worth and to spread across Texas. It was a time when people named shows after themselves, so naturally Dolly named the new show after herself. It was actually known as “Dolly Johnson’s Antique Show.” Today we don’t name shows after an individual’s full name---it’s just that Dolly’s show is one that has survived and evolved and is still going strong. For many, it is simply called “The Dolly Show.”

You can imagine the excitement that must have surrounded Dolly Johnson’s Antique Show when the American Bi-Centennial finally arrived.

I digress here…Does anyone out there remember the celebration of the Bi-Centennial in Fort Worth? Many events were planned, including a huge gathering to hear the symphony at the old Leonard’s M & O Subway parking lot. Well, on the 4th of July, 1976 it poured rain in Fort Worth. Not sprinkles, it rained and rained and rained. And we all went downtown anyway. In the pouring rain, the citizens sat on soaked bales of hay that had been set up like mountains to get us out of the water. I remember eating thoroughly drowned fried chicken.

But at sunset, amid all the soaking flags and banners, the rains parted and the most beautiful light flooded the city with a long summer sundown. Everything reflected a pinkish golden glow and the world seemed clean and new. In our wet clothes, the citizens of Fort Worth finally heard the music and saw the fireworks that had been planned all along. When Fort Worth gets its Trinity River Vision in place with a new town lake, many people will remember that at the bottom of that lake is the place where we sat on wet bales of hay and celebrated our country, rain or shine.

And with that Bi-Centennial came the new-found craze for antiques. Dolly Johnson had helped to usher it in. Suddenly, abandoned small towns sprouted antique shops and collectors clubs began to form and flourish. Helen Pringle, one of the group that went with Dolly to that first Nashville antique show, writes on our show website about “the long line of shoppers” who began to eagerly await the opening of the Dolly Johnson Show each year. See under “Show History.”

At the fall 2009 Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, I sold an enourmous Minnesota stepback cupboard to a woman about my age from Houston. I told her about the March 12-13 show in Fort Worth. She looked at me and said, “I knew Dolly Johnson.” Well, it turned out that they were in fact old family friends.

The next day, when Dolly’s friend came back with a truck big enough to carry her cupboard, she handed me a bag. It was a gift. Inside was a marvelous geometric American hooked rug, with all the signs of being well-used. “When I was a young girl, Dolly and I went to an antique show together,” she said. “Dolly picked this rug out for me to have in my future home. I want you to have it now.” The spirit of Dolly lives on.

Dolly’s daughter, JJ Frambes, who is a whole story of her own, took over running the show for the last 20 years or so. Her daughter, Krista Luter, and JJ’s grandchildren, Haley and Josh Luter, helped from an early age. In fact, you can probably find Dolly and Rip Johnson’s great-grandchildren at this year’s show, helping still.

So move over, Dolly Madison, Dolly Parton and Dolly Python. The Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show will soon be here! 

Blog Photos by Krista Luter
Show Special Events and Discount Coupon at