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Making the Most of the National Farm Toy Show Planning Ahead for 2007!

This year was the 29th National Farm Toy Show. Always the first weekend in November, the show is sponsored by Toy Farmer Magazine, and is considered the Grand Daddy toy show of them all. In fact Dyersville boasts that it is The Farm Toy Capital of the World. This year’s show had around 400 tables of vendors located indoors and about 5,000 visitors from all over the US and in some cases around the world.

If you are planning to attend this wonderful event, you may be wondering, how do you fit a week’s worth of activities into a three day weekend? That is the question most visitors to the Dyersville, Iowa-National Farm Toy Show ponder upon arrival.

Checking out the vendors before the toy show opens seems to be the secret of many of the collectors I know. Dan Shima of Eldridge, Iowa came on Thursday, a full day before the show to check out what bargains could be found around the show. “I like to take my time and look things over before the show opens,” Dan said.

Outside vendors are located around the Farm Toy Museum and all up and down the street as well. Some of those a bit further away close up by Sunday, so for outside vendors, looking over their wares by Saturday evening is probably the best way to shop. The weather is a big factor in how comfortable this shopping experience is. This year with unseasonably warm temperatures and a clear blue sky, outside activities were optimal.

If hoping to tour the Spec Cast factory, if next year is like this year, Friday was the only day the factory was open. The Spec Cast outlet store and that of Scale Models and Racing Champs RC2 were open all three days, but the hours varied. Again, if shopping on Sunday morning for last minute bargains, you may want to do this by noon. Downtown Dyersville Evers Toy store was also open along with a variety of other stores as well. Buses run most all weekend long taking visitors between the main areas where the show is located which is the Toy Farm Museum, and Beckman High school. Commercial Park is also filled with a variety of vendors and opens a bit before the rest of the show so offers an early shopping option.

The downtown area is quite picturesque and besides shops has the lure of the Basilica and the
Bostford Doll Museum. Barb Perry, a vendor added, My favorite part of the show is wondering around up town and going to the craft bazaar and beautiful Basilica.

This year I took time to see the Basilica and was glad I did, the church is very beautiful and adds a bit of peacefulness that you need after pounding the pavement searching for toys. In years past I have toured the doll museum and enjoyed that as well. Someday, I plan to also take in the Field of Dreams (scene of the Kevin Costner movie) which within driving distance.

The toy show opens officially on Friday around 5:00, but frequent visitors like Dan Shima often buy ‘floor rights’ which offers the benefit of viewing vendor items at 3:00. While costing a bit more, if you are a big shopper, this might be worthwhile, with less crowded walkways, and fewer collectors competing for what you are looking for. How do you find the special item you are longing for? Collector and writer for Toy Shop Magazine Karen O’Brien said she just asks. Through a little walkin’ and talking, you’ll find what you need!

Besides the obvious vendors, a couple things not to miss are the National Farm Toy Museum and the farm layouts. The museum is always a draw and is open throughout the show for visitors to enjoy. This year, John Deere had a display showing the history of tractors over the years. Beckman high school is the site of the farm layout contest with a small and large scale division and adult and youth competitors. This is one of my favorite things to view because it is truly amazing what the layout contestants devise. Many of the scenes are created from their own or a relative’s family farm. The youth are great fun especially to talk to and learn about their interest in the hobby.

At Beckman High school on Saturday morning, there is always a toy auction with many unique toys, and special models which always includes the Toy Farmer gold version of the show tractor. This year it was an International Harvester 4366 that sold for $2000.00. Proceeds from the tractor went to Bergen Mercy.

There is more, but this provides a bit of perspective on planning your next year’s show! Don’t forget to make reservations plenty in advance, while Dyersville usually fills up fast, reservations can usually be found in nearby Dubuque which is about half an hour away.