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Farm toy show puts pedals to the metal for enthusiasts

Ag center hosts event for area collectors

Ag center hosts event for area collectors

November 20, 2005|By MARIE GILBERT

marieg@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Farming is in Ron Enslow's blood. Ever since he was a boy, he has plowed the fields and harvested the crops.

Two years ago, Enslow retired. But, in a way, he still is making a living from agriculture.

Enslow is a farm toy collector and dealer.

A resident of Waterloo, N.Y., Enslow braved lake-effect snow to travel to the Western Maryland Farm Toy Show held Friday and Saturday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center.

"I wouldn't have missed this for anything," Enslow said. "I've been a regular vendor here and have made a lot of friends. Traveling through a little snow wasn't going to keep me away."

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Sponsored by the Tri-State Farm Toy Collectors Club, the show has become an annual event, attracting vendors and collectors from as far away as New York and North Carolina.

"We've been sponsoring these shows for quite a few years," said Doug Artz, treasurer of the area club. "And we've never had a problem finding people to display or sell their toys. This year, we have about 30 vendors on hand."

"Almost everyone here has some connection to farming," Artz said. "Maybe they lived on a farm or as a youngster visited a grandparent who owned a farm. But something from their past has sparked an interest in collecting farm toys."

Artz said he lived on a farm as a boy, but today makes his home in Funkstown.

"I've become nostalgic," Artz said. "I enjoy collecting replicas of the things I grew up with."

Enslow said he became a collector in 1988, then became a dealer in 1994.

"I sell toys to buy toys for my collection," Enslow said. "I think a lot of dealers do the same thing."

Mike Driver, a member of the club's board of directors, said he began collecting farm toys about 21 years ago.

"I didn't know all this existed until I visited a show with a friend who was a collector," Driver said. "Once I saw all this, the bug bit me, much to my wife's dismay."

Driver still remembers his first show as a vendor.

"I started out with two boxes of toys," Driver said. "Now when I do a show, I have enough merchandise to fill three or four tables."

Driver, who lives in Mount Airy, Md., said he travels to about 12 shows a year.

Most of his toys are from the 1950s and early 1960s.

"There really weren't a lot of nice toys until the 1950s," Driver said. "There were cast-iron farm toys, but I don't collect those. They are way too expensive."

If you attend a farm toy show, there's something for the novice, as well as the serious collector, Driver said.

"You can find things for a few dollars or thousands of dollars," Driver said. "It depends on what you're looking for and what level of collector you are."

Driver said collecting farm toys can turn into a family affair.

"There are grandparents, parents and children from the same family who enjoy collecting farm toys," Driver said. "It's good, clean fun - something that everyone can enjoy, regardless of your age."

In addition to farm toys that ranged from tractors to grain sets, the show also featured license plates, clocks and games dedicated to farming. Collectors also could find old operator's manuals and parts books.

Artz said the show usually attracts about 500 people over two days.

All proceeds go toward a $1,000 scholarship given annually to an area student planning on majoring in agriculture or related studies.

The club sponsors two farm toy shows each year, Artz said. The next show will take place in the spring.

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