The 46th Annual Zoar Harvest Festival And Antiques Show

Show Draws Nearly 2,000 People: A Lot Of Business Done

August 9, 2019

Zoar is a small historic town in Tuscarawas County, Ohio (east-central part of state), founded in 1817 by roughly 200 immigrants fleeing religious oppression from the Germanic region/kingdom of Wurttemberg, where they disagreed with the state-sponsored Lutheran church. They sought to create a utopian village in America. Quakers in both Great Britian and Philadelphia financed the group.
They were known as the Society of Separatists of Zoar. The Biblical meaning of Zoar refers to “place of refuge.” An early economic boon to the community was the Ohio and Erie Canal. The Zoarites had many cottage industries along with prosperous flour and wool milling businesses. Furniture made by the Separatists (primarily ca. 1830-60) has a healthy market today and is not just locally collected.
The community began to decline in the early 1850s and disbanded at the very end the 19th century. Today, there is an active community association dedicated to preserving the town. They put on events throughout the year and take care of 12 historic buildings. The group’s big event, the Harvest Festival, started 46 years ago.
Today, the festival includes a large outdoor antiques show (60 dealers) and an artisans show (30 artisans). This year, it was held July 27 and 28. There are also crafters and vendors throughout the village, along with other activities such as horse-drawn wagon rides, a small antique car show, sheep dog demos, baking demos, and children’s activities. The big draw is the antiques show, managed by Steve Sherhag, and the separate artisans show that is run by Early American Life magazine. The antiques show is about double the size and is set up under two massive tents in a field located next to the Zoar UCC church. There are industrial-size fans rented for under the tents to circulate air. The weather can make or break this show. Fortunately, the weather was very cooperative all weekend, with no rain and relatively low humidity.
This event is well-supported within the region but should be a bigger draw, given the high quality of the antiques and simply how great the entire festival is. It is the hope of the association that more antique collectors and dealers in the Midatlantic put this great show on their calendar and make the trip. Zoar is a two hour drive west of Pittsburgh, Pa., and about six hours from Lancaster, Pa. The price of admission is a great value. Entry into the museum is included (it is well worth the visit) along with admission to both the antique and artisan shows. The town’s atmosphere is conducive to an antiques show and far superior to a stuffy gymnasium or civic center where many shows tend to be held.
A lot of business was done at the antiques show. The mix and quality of offerings was tremendous. This is not a little table top collectible show with your grandmother’s doilies. Advanced collectors know not to miss the Zoar Show, and great things are there. Jefferson, Pa., dealer Frank Swala sold a blue-painted pie safe with punched tin panels. The panels read “Union/Now/And/Forever,” and each had a spread-wing eagle clutching a patriotic shield. It was priced at $20,000. Swala sold his special paint-decorated Richland County, Ohio, blanket chest with fine landscape scene in front panel. It was marked $29,000 and was a show stopper. Other sales included an expensive quilt and a Morgantown “people” crock. John Kolar of Hudson, Ohio, sold an early transom, a trade sign in the form of a car, and his fantastic “Newton Falls” wooden sign. It was a stunner, early, and from Trumbull County, Ohio. New additions to the show, Andrew Richmond and Hollie Davis of the Ohio Company Antiques & Art, sold well. Just a few of the things to find new homes included an early folk watercolor, a cast-iron mill weight, several good signs, and a tall-case clock.
The dealers, a healthy mix of young and old members of the trade, do a great job bringing good material at many price points. The show is held on the last weekend in July, to not conflict with the National Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony annually held the first weekend of August in nearby Canton, Ohio. The 2020 dates of the antiques show will be Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26.
To learn more about the antiques show or Historic Zoar Village, visit


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