Maybe your show has all the visitors you can handle. Maybe you're running out of parking, the popcorn machine is about to short out and there are permanent lines at the port-a-pots. If so, pass go. Collect $200 if you can. Take a stroll on the Boardwalk.
But if your greeters could shoehorn in a couple more at the gate, consider this tale. Recently, a friend needed a brochure to promote a special event involving antique tractors. The graphic artist who designed the piece took one look at the photos of old tractors and stopped dead in her tracks. "Those old machines are so cool," she said. "Tell me about them."
Then there was the guy at the print shop. "Wow!" he said. "Where'd you take those pictures? I've never seen anything like those tractors!" He fired off about 15 minutes of non-stop questions. Where? How? When? How long? Do they still run? Shows? No kidding. Nearby?
Who'd have thought? We're all crazy for old iron, sure. But we may have underestimated the potential interest in it among the general public. Maybe your neighbors know of your passion for antique farm equipment, but do they know why? Have you taken them to a show? Shown them around? Have you introduced them to your buddies? Well, okay, maybe that's not such a good idea! But seriously: Think about this approach to expanding the hobby.
Just as most collectors never intend to end up with 300 rusty tractors, not everyone who slips in to the old iron hobby does so as an old hand. You may have to bring along some of these folks. They may take some educating, some coaching. No, there are no guarantees. They may not join the club … or they might. They may not buy a steamer and display it at your show … but they might become active volunteers. They may never do anything more than drop in on your show as a visitor, year after year after year. And there's nothing wrong with that!
Leslie McManus, Editor