A glass case full of Effinger Brewery mementos may look like a collection, but to Ken Jones they’re a connection.
His late father was a deliveryman for the defunct Baraboo brewery. When Jones acquires items — ranging from wall signs to clocks to a delivery slip signed by his father — the collector feels a little closer to his dad, Duane “Buck” Jones.
“That was one of his favorite jobs,” Jones said, noting that his father worked for Effinger until it closed in the 1960s.
Jones’ collection of Effinger artifacts will highlight Saturday’s Baraboo Antique Flea Market and Collectors Fair. Eight collectors will showcase their treasures — which won’t be for sale — at Baraboo Arts Banquet & Convention Center, while 12 antique dealers set up shop nearby.
Ralph Pierce will show souvenir china depicting Baraboo. John McNabb will exhibit vintage paper items — calendars, books and postcards — about Baraboo. The Al. Ringling Brewing Co. will bring a collection of Ringling circus artifacts.
“We’re just trying to promote collecting and not letting these things go away,” organizer Mary Hultman said.
Jones eagerly accepted her invitation to join the fair, as he enjoys sharing Effinger Brewery history. He scours auctions, garage sales and the internet for items made by the brewery, which operated where Circus World’s Parkinson Library sits today. Like many small breweries, Effinger struggled to compete with national brands.
“My biggest fear is the next generation won’t appreciate it as much,” Jones said.
He possesses the clock that once hung in the brewery’s break room, as well as a 1907 wall sign, glassware, crates and promotional giveaways. “Bless the Effingers; they advertised on everything,” Jones said.
Collecting such artifacts helps Jones better grasp the history of the brewery, which operated for nearly a century, and its important role in the community. Effinger had a local competitor, the Ruhland Brewery, for many years, and during Prohibition made soda and ice cream.
“I love the history of Baraboo,” he said. “It seemed like for every item, there was a story that went with it.”
He also enjoys collecting, a term he carefully differentiates from “hoarding.” His densely packed Seventh Avenue home — the same one he grew up in — bursts not only with brewery paraphernalia, but superhero figurines, Bucky Badger bobblehead dolls and commemorative Hollywood plates.
“I want ‘collecting’ to be not such a dirty word,” Jones said.
Jones approaches his search for Effinger items he does not yet own — he eschews duplicates — as a hunt. “It’s just the chasing of history,” he said. “It gives you that thrill of the chase.”
It also connects him with local — and family — history. Descendants of the Effingers have seen his collection, and Jones has struck up a friendship with Dale Ruhland. Jones is appearing at Saturday’s fair in hopes of making connections with other people with ties to Baraboo’s breweries. He also wants to make sure their legacy isn’t forgotten.
“I need people to know about it,” he said.