A look into our Past


Antique enthusiasts will gather for the 31st annual Antiques in the Square show in Clear Lake, Iowa this weekend.  On Sunday, September 3rd, our beautiful city park will be turned into a plethora of treasures.  The event runs from 9am to 4pm and will be held rain or shine!

It got me thinking a bit about antiques and what draws people to them.

The official definition of an antique is “an item perceived as having value because of its aesthetic or historical significance, and often defined as at least 100 years old.”  These collectible items are often a piece of furniture or a work of art.  Their value mostly comes with age, but it also is dependent on the item and where it originated.

There’s something to be said about finding beauty in things.  Especially old things.  We are able to rediscover parts of our past while learning about history.  Antiques are like a little portal to the days of yore.  A glimpse, if you will, into the lives of our ancestors and how they lived.

Each discovery brings a slew of new questions to the surface.

Who used these items?  And how? 

Antiques get us thinking about what it would be like to live in another time frame; before technology came along to ‘enhance’ our lives.  They give us a different perspective on life, and what it was like to live at the turn of the century.  Antiques offer a sense of nostalgia and can connect people to a particular era.

For instance, I am fascinated with my grandmother’s childhood.  I couldn’t imagine living in a time where washing clothes was done by hand and hung on a line to dry.  But then to see the items they used to perform such a task?  Amazing!

And the cooking utensils…  oh, how I love them!  I am thankful I don’t have to actually use them to cook, but they look amazing as decorations in my kitchen.

In recent years, the physical act of “antiquing” has become wildly popular.  And not just with people of a certain age!  In fact, Millennials are buying antique and vintage items left and right.  Some say it’s because they are more ‘open-minded’ about different styles.  Others will argue it’s because of their need to express themselves. Honestly, I think they are just as fascinated by the history of these items as the rest of us.

Which just goes to show… antiquing is for everyone!

One reason for this surge in popularity with the younger generation is likely due to reality television.  When such shows hit the scene, antiquing developed into a common household term.  Antiques Roadshow became an instant hit in the early 1970s.  But it was the modern twist on treasure hunting from shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars that really pushed antiques into the mainstream.

Each show used their own spin to capitalize on our fascination with such old items.

It became a game.  A challenge, if you will, to find hidden treasures.

As Antiques in the Square continues to thrive year after year, it not only preserves the past, but strengthens the bonds of a shared appreciation for the history of these items.  The 40+ antique dealers from Iowa and Minnesota are looking forward to seeing you all in beautiful City Park on Sunday.

Ralphene Stokke has owned and operated Ralphene’s in downtown Clear Lake with her husband, Dave, for 45 years.  The “Antique Queen” created this event and has kept it going all these years.  She states, “We are looking forward to this year’s Antiques in the Square. Come down to City Park and enjoy some delicious food, great music, and lots of unique treasures. Thank you for supporting our event!”

Zion Lutheran Church will hold service in the park from 10am to 11am and live music will be provided in the afternoon by local favorite, the Mockingbirds!   Local businesses will have extended hours, and the CLHS Dance Team will have their annual food stand fundraiser along with several other food vendors.

Antiques in the Park is more than just an event; it is a celebration of heritage, an avenue for learning, and a bridge to connecting generations together.

For questions concerning the event, please contact the Clear Lake Antique Dealers Association 641-357-4000.