Friday, August 31, 2007

Ketchum antique show shut down

Was it a voluntary or mandatory evacuation?

Express Staff Writer

Jay Chambers of Blue Lantern Antiques talks with Alee Marsters, organizer of this weekend?s Hailey Antique Market in Roberta McKercher Park. Chambers, of Washington, was a vendor in the canceled Ketchum antique show and Marsters stepped in and brought the evacuees under the big top. Photo by David N. Seelig

Antique vendors turn back and then back again

Greg Otto and his wife, Doris, own Otto-Messier Antiques in Portland and they do four antique shows a year in Ketchum. They had been watching news of the Castle Rock Fire on TV. They were three hours driving time out of Portland when they got a call from event organizer Bill Summers saying the show was canceled.

"We were well on our way back to Portland when we got another call (saying things were back on) and then we turned around and went back to Sun Valley." Otto and his wife do 30 to 35 shows a year including four with Summers in Ketchum. The event in Ketchum is "probably our strongest show on our current circuit that we do," said Otto. Despite the difficulties they said they will be happy to be here. They are joining other vendors at the Hailey Antique Market at Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey.

Steve Christianson, who owns Far Fetched Antiques from Missoula, Mont., is another one with the yo-yo feeling, but he remains upbeat. He said Summers "worked tirelessly" to turn things around. "It is nothing short of amazing what has happened in the last five hours," he said on Wednesday. Vendors would have purchased meals and other items in Ketchum. "It was just one way to keep the community going in Ketchum ... It (the cancellation) was disappointing on every level."

Antiques show moved to Hailey

In a squabble of consequence that weighs concerns of local safety versus local commerce, the Castle Rock Fire has claimed another victim.

The Ketchum Wagon Days Antiques Show thought it could survive the smoky yo-yo battle that has claimed acres of real estate and other Wagon Days events. It was smaller. It was indoors—but it's time to stick a fork in the event. It's done, too.

But the question is: Did they raise a white flag, or were they subdued? Event organizer Bill Summers said the city pulled the plug on his Ketchum Wagon Days Antiques Show, which was scheduled for today, Aug 31, through Sunday, Sept. 2, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum, citing public safety reasons because of the Castle Rock Fire.

Summers said he got a call on Wednesday from the city clerk's office at Ketchum City Hall telling him his event had been canceled. He strongly disagreed when told by the Mountain Express that mayor Randy Hall said that Summers "volunteered" to relocate to Hailey," Summer said. "I'm not trying to pick a fight with the mayor. I did not volunteer to relocate. I was closed down."

Hall, also speaking on Wednesday, said he was concerned when he saw on TV that the antiques show was going forward while other events were not. The mayor said the town was sending an inconsistent message.

"He (Summers) did it reluctantly ... He did it (shutdown) voluntarily," Hall said.

Hall said he asked Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Carol Waller to pass the message to Summers that, "I didn't think it was a good idea (to go forward) ... It's not only unsafe for fire considerations, but the air quality here is unsafe."

Allowing the antiques show would "open up a can of worms," Hall said. Others groups could say, "'You let the antique fair in. Why don't you let me in,'" Hall said.

Summers sees it differently. He said he talked with Waller explaining that dealers were already on the way. A Wisconsin dealer had already spent $1,500.

"The mayor had the courtesy to call me after the fact," said Summers, but "he wouldn't budge."

Patricia Bennett, the city's deputy treasurer-clerk, said she called Summers at Hall's behest.

"The mayor asked me to call to see if he (Summers) was called by the chamber," Bennett said. "The mayor asked that all events be canceled because of the fire situation."

Summers told the clerk he had not been contacted. Bennett said she notified Waller, and Waller "finalized it."

Summers said he has a temporary business permit, not a special-use permit for the show, which has been ongoing for 15 years. The city said he had a sales tax permit.

His events, put on four times a year, are usually attended by about 400 mostly local folks and unlike other Wagon Days-related events the antique show is indoors, Summers said. Traffic concerns would have been minimized. Trucks would have unloaded on a side street, and "I don't require any street closures."

The event would have also given locals something to do, he said.

"I apologized for having asked him to do this," said Hall, adding he suggested moving the event to Hailey or Bellevue. "Until it's safe we shouldn't be loading this town with visitors ... I don't believe I'm over-reacting."

Efforts to move this weekend's Silver Car Auction to Hailey were unsuccessful, and it will take place after attempts to contact individual car owners were only partially successful, said a Sun Valley Resort news release. Limited attendance is expected, and public safety officials have the authority to shut the event down, the release said.

Some vendors were already on their way to Ketchum when they got calls sending them bouncing home and then back again.

Alee Marsters called Summers and offered help. She regularly stages the Hailey Antique Market in the summer at Roberta McKercher Park and agreed to throw up more tents to include the evacuees from Summers' show. About a dozen of the fourteen original venders from Summers' show will participate. It's scheduled for today, Aug. 31, Saturday and Sunday.

Summers, of Picabo, would not say exactly how much money he has lost, but it's "a significant chunk of change." Summers said he also has to settle up with Nexstage Theatre but has no bad feelings toward city employees.

"These are professional hard-working people that man those offices up there," he said.

He was philosophical about everything.

"This is an act of God, and these things happen ... I'm going to Bellevue Labor Day weekend (parade and celebration) where I don't pose a threat to public safety."

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