Country Relics Little Village in Stanhope, Iowa
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At Christmas time, thousands of holiday lights set the tiny community aglow, and lanterns brighten the paths between buildings.
The Carlsons host a "Christmas Stroll" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year's Day, or on weekdays during the same period by chance or appointment.
Christmas decorations festoon the miniature buildings, and Fern dresses the 103 mannequin "residents" for the holidays. Father Christmas (Varlen) wears a long red coat with fur trim and matching hat, and Fern portrays Mrs. Christmas with a black fur Persian lamb cape, hat and long skirt.
The livery features a manger scene. Carolers perform in the church, while in the school, a recitation program is depicted.
Christmas lights also outline the Stanhope depot, which the Carlsons moved to their farm in 1979 to serve as a gift shop. A Farmall Regular tractor also is outlined with lights, complete with wheels that appear to be moving.
The gift shop's wares include toys reminiscent of the past: marbles, jacks, harmonicas, yo-yos, and tin mechanical toys. Guests warm up next to a pot-bellied stove while sampling hot cider, or Fern's special peanut brittle.
No matter what time of year it is, the Carlsons continue to collect.
"He's still basically collecting things related to IH and farm-related items. I'm doing the collecting for the village," Fern said. "But when we go antiquing, he finds things that fit in the village, and I find things related to the machinery collection. We're partners in this venture, that's for sure." FC
For more information: Country Relics Little Village is located on Highway 17 North, 1.5 miles north of Stanhope, Iowa. (515) 826-4386. E-mail: email@example.com.
Dianne Beetler is a lifelong rural resident who enjoys writing about people with unusual collections.
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