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Ken Farmer of Antiques Road Show Fame Visits The Park-Oak Grove

Ken Farmer entertains as well as informs the crowd.

“Time flies when you’re having fun” and thankfully for the 100 or more gathered at The Park-Oak Grove this past Tuesday, Ken Farmer, a guest appraiser of “Antiques Roadshow” fame, was having a lot of fun. The event was scheduled from 2 to 4:30 p.m. but it was pushing 5:30 p.m. when things finally wrapped up. Maybe it was the thrill of potentially discovering that one surprise expensive item, or maybe it was exceptionally good manners, but Farmer did not leave until he had evaluated everyone’s treasures.

Audience members registered in advance for the free event, which followed a similar format to Antiques Roadshow, but with a more laid back atmosphere. Farmer, whose business is based in Radford, worked the crowd with ease, taking all the time needed to graciously give each and every anxious attendee their moment in the spotlight – asking questions while carefully examining the items on display, which were as unique and varied as the group itself.

Farmer’s expertise was evident as he often took the time to interject some history or explain why an item was special.  A wooden chair purchased for $17 at a yard sale was worth a hundred or two … a Japanese robe with rich embroidery all over — $400 – 500 … a compact with gold accents turned out to have REAL gold accents, delighting its owner who learned it could be valued at $1000.

On their way out, two sisters proudly and gingerly unpacked a tiny antique German doll house which their father had kept. The little red-roofed house looked more like a cabin, but inside were smaller boxes, the “rooms,” each of which were filled with tiny metal furniture. Farmer said he had never seen one so complete – usually all the furniture is missing.

And so the afternoon went, with Farmer dispensing lots of expert advice, appraisals, and interesting tidbits, and if a little stymied, at least pointing out the right direction for an owner to conduct further research.

Vanetta Stockton, Community Relations Coordinator at The Park-Oak Grove, was busy snapping photos and helping things run smoothly, all the while hobnobbing with guests. Stockton said the main reason for holding the event was to introduce people to their facility, which she considers top-notch.  She may not have anticipated the popularity of the event, which had parking overflowing onto the street.

It seems that while many Roanokers have heard of The Park-Oak Grove, some are not quite sure exactly what or where it is. It is not an outdoor park, but a retirement community nestled in a neighborhood setting just off the beaten path behind SW county’s Oak Grove Plaza.  Stockton adds that “it is locally owned and operated, which is quite unusual.” Most of the staff have worked there for many years and are close with the residents.

The “appraisal fair” kept most everyone riveted on Farmer’s comments – anticipating treasure seemed to bond everyone in the room. Farmer’s genuine interest was unmistakable; he often said, “How nice” or “that’s neat,” and “has that been in your family for a long time?”

Occasionally, he had to “get real,” as several claimed to have a piece of history – in the case of one lady, something from Marie Antoinette’s desk, or in another, a document from Custer’s battlefield. While Farmer did not discount that it was possible, he says people have to “prove it.” In the case of the document in question, there would “have to be affidavits verifying it from day one.”

One man brought several interesting pieces of art – a little figurine Farmer delightedly called “ugly but cool,” and a flat plaster piece with a detailed dinosaur on it that he proclaimed “cool as heck – love the way the skin is done – amazing.” He deemed each of them to probably be worth a few hundred a piece. He called the market for such items “very obscure.”

The staff at The Park-Oak Grove felt the event was a big success, and most in attendance left satisfied with the new information on their family heirlooms. One of the last to leave, Emma Hudgins, brought a porcelain Japanese bowl her parents “had gotten while they were with the army of occupation in Japan.” Farmer told her to do further research as the piece is likely quite valuable. Hudgins was moved as she said, “this has been so nice – it (the bowl) was my mother’s – she’d be so pleased.”

For more information or for an appraisal, contact Ken Farmer at 800-476-5359 or [email protected] His website is

The staff at The Park-Oak Grove, located at 4920 Woodmar Drive SW, can be reached at 540-989-9501, or visit

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