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Gold Rush feeds passion for antiques

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

Ron Trcka attended this year’s Gold Rush Antique Show at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds this weekend, as he has on and off now for the last 15 years, with a kind of grim determination.

Surrounded by his beer steins, pottery and other antiques worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars, the Faribault man said he came with the intention of trying to get rid of some of his antiques. "We have so much stuff, we have to get rid of it," he said.

Yet antique dealers are human, too. With tens of thousands of items on display, Trcka, 44, couldn’t resist the temptation to buy a few items. In particular, his trained eye scoped out an old-fashioned Daisy butter churn, a nifty item that he was certain he could sell for a profit.

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"It’s like a disease. You can write that down. A lot of people will be able to relate to that," Trcka said.

He was one of thousands of people to attend Gold Rush, the annual antique show extravaganza that traditionally heralds the start of the antique season. The two-day event is the first of three shows to be held at the fairgrounds. The others are Aug. 18 and 19 and Sept. 22 and 23.

Rick Koch of Spring Valley had a booth set up with pots, stoneware, coffee tins, lanterns and other items. Although a stiff wind at times threatened to knock down his tent, Koch said he did better in sales than last year.

Koch, who worked alongside his girlfriend Nicki Orke, collects many different antiques, but his primary interest is in Red Wing stoneware and crocks. Some of the crocks displayed were more than 100 years old and had price tags of $400.

Koch said the key to success at antique shows is variety. Only so many people are going to be interested in stoneware, and a big seller for Koch were lanterns. He also sold an old gas stove that he hadn’t even intended to sell.

"I had a lady walk up and she looked at it and she said, ‘Oh, is that cute. I’ll take it,’" Koch said. "I said, ‘ma’am, did you see the price tag.’ She goes, ‘Yeah. I’ll take it.’"

Koch sold it for $150. Koch had bought it for $25 from a friend who had bought it for $2 at an auction.

Strictly speaking, not everything for sale at Gold Rush is an antique. Along with antique items, Rex Kern of Faribault sells Barbie dolls, ‘N Sync bobblehead dolls and Batman stuff. Commercial knickknacks are indispensable at antique shows to broaden their appeal and to keep the cash flowing, he said.

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Kern agreed antique shows can be addicting.

"It’s a passion that turns into a lifestyle," Kern said. "I talked to a fellow earlier today. He had a regular job and all he dreamt about was going to the next antique show. He does it full time now."

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