First Things

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Leslie C. McDanielLeslie C. McDaniel

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Rest up. That's my advice to club members as winter approaches.

Here at Farm Collector, we've just sent the Guide 2001 - our directory of shows for the next year - to the printer. Now more than ever, we're keenly aware of the monumental task taken on by an army of volunteers who produce vintage equipment shows each year.

According to our calculations, there's a show going on somewhere in North America at any given moment during a period from May 1 to Oct. 30. It reminds me of the line of dominoes we patiently built as kids, one collapsing after another.

Show organizers and volunteers are increasingly savvy about what it takes to put on a good show. One of the biggest challenges is competition ... not so much from other clubs, but from other events and activities. The calendar is overloaded with dates, and Americans are famous for cramming 25 hours into every 24.

To be a player, though, you have to compete. And that means show organizers are expanding parking, camping and hygiene facilities; bringing in more (and more exotic) concessions, setting up communications centers, making provision for the handicapped, contacting the media, setting up insurance, establishing stores and gift shops, and taking on specialized food preparation - like homemade ice cream cranked with power from an old tractor or engine. Some, taking a cue from corporate America, are even developing mission statements and long-range plans.

And yet they're all different. The way shows are organized, maintained, structured differs from club to club. What's commonplace at one show is unheard of at another. That variety is part of the appeal: you're never entirely sure what you'll encounter when you're on the show circuit.

For years we pondered the uniqueness of the snowflake: no two were alike, the teachers said. Then, the spoilsports who study such things decreed that, in fact, there were repeats in the snow drift. Well, they can study antique farm equipment shows until the cows come home: no two of those are alike.

Gardeners pass the long winter nights by studying seed catalogs; picking, choosing, planning. Why not follow their lead? Order your copy of Farm Collector's Guide 2001 today, and start planning your show season.