Marble show, convention returns to Bloomington

By Harvey T. Rockwood - Sun Newspapers (Minnesota)
(Created: Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:00 AM CDT)

Get out the cat's eyes and the steelies - the Midwest Marble Show returns to Bloomington this weekend after a hiatus of several years.

Bob Vayder, who organizes the event along with his wife, Dorothy, believes marbles may be ready to make a comeback. Now that the economy seems to be strengthening, people are returning to collectible hobbies, including marbles, he reasons.

"That's why I think it will come back," said Vayder, who will test his theory this weekend. "It seems to me like something the kids could take an interest in."

In recent years Vayder has brought his extensive collection to Poplar Bridge Elementary School, near his Bloomington home, where students responded enthusiastically, he recalled.

Many middle-aged people and seniors are attracted to marbles because they elicit a strong sense of nostalgia. They recall epic marble battles in the corner of the school playground, according to Vayder.

People connect with their past through the colored glass, steelies and the rest, he said.

And some young people who've just about burned out on fancy electronic games are starting to come around to the idea that marbles might be the opportunity to chart a course that's admired by both generations.

That's why Vayder and his wife, Dorothy, will bring back the Midwest Marble Convention and swap meet 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Ramada Inn Airport and Thunderbird Conference Center, 2201 American Blvd. E., Bloomington.

Visitors can check out serious collectors' best items, including some antiques that may be worth as much as $10,000, Vayder said.

And some people are lucky enough to find an old box or carrying case - sometimes very formal - that holds an old collection of marbles that could be worth a hefty price or a family treasure only worth a few dollars but priceless to the family that owns it.

Interest in marbles, like that of almost all collectibles, waned when the economy derailed, Vayder said. Now that it's stabilizing, people are bringing their treasures down from the closet shelf.

"People might have a can of marbles sitting up in the attic or in the garage," he said. "They'd like to know what they're worth."

People turn up at each year's convention with a pouch or can of marbles they played with as children, not knowing they may have valuable collectors' items, Vayder said.

"They bring back memories of playing marbles on the school playground," he said.

More information: 952-831-3066.