When visitors walk into the Darien Antiques Show at The First Congregational Church of Darien, they'll find the church's parish hall and nursery school magically transformed into colorful booths displaying treasures from the past three centuries.

Devised by church members 44 years ago to support area charities, the weekend event begins with a preview party Friday, March 4. The party's primary beneficiary is St. Luke's LifeWorks of Stamford, a not-for-profit organization which plays a critical role in providing learning opportunities, housing and support services to people overcoming homelessness in Fairfield County. Darien beneficiaries include Aging In Place in Darien, A Better Chance in Darien and Person-to-Person.

The preview party is the only local fund raiser which lets guests browse through 37 booths of beautiful antiques while enjoying fine wine, food, live music and bidding on silent and live auction items. "Visitors will find a wide selection of American and Continental furniture, fine art, Georgian silver, antique and estate jewelry, decorative ceramics, and antique glass for every budget and decorating need," said Patricia Hedlund of Darien, the show's co-manager. "The dealers we've chosen provide a high quality distinctive mix of merchandise. They are friendly and knowledgeable, very willing to educate beginning collectors. Go ahead and ask questions."

"And here's a secret: antiques shows are a great place to purchase fine art at terrific prices."

The show managers have attracted several dealers who carry fine art in all sorts of media. Ann Wilbanks, owner of Find Weatherly Antiques, LLC, of Westport, will bring nautical and equestrian oil paintings; Lynne Ward Antiques Prints of Rowayton focuses on botanicals, natural history, fashion and architecture; Dr. Robert Sigg, owner of 88 Elm Antiques will bring Sailors' Woolies and school girl samplers; Inuit Images from Sandwich, Mass., will have lovely Inuit carvings; and Bruce Mitchell of Orange will show 18th and 19th century American glass.

Visitors to this year's show can also have a family heirloom appraised for free -- road-show style -- on Saturday and Sunday afternoons between 1 and 3 p.m. by Christine Downing, who owns the Norwalk auction gallery C. Downing Auctions and was a featured appraiser on the HGTV hit show "Cash in the Attic."

The preview party runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 4, and the show will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 5, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 6. Admission to only the show is $10 at the door, $8 for seniors; preview party tickets are $50 at the door and include weekend admission. A tearoom, open from noon to 3 p.m. both days, will serve lunches and treats.

For more information, discount coupons and photos, visit DarienAntiqueShow.org. Follow news about the show on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheDarienAntiqueShow. The First Congregational Church of Darien is located in Darien, at the corner of Brookside Road and the Post Road.

To reach the church office call 203-655-0491.

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