First Things

The Essence of the Show


| April 2007



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This being the April issue of Farm Collector, I thought it would be great fun to do a sort of "April Fools" cover. I envisioned a photo of Britney Spears in work-out duds at the wheel of a classic tractor, with headlines crowing "Thinner Thighs in 30 Days!" and "Test Your Love IQ: Do You Have What it Takes to Make the Grade?" and "Free! Easy! Thirteen Guaranteed Ways to Save at the Mall!"

The boss, however, did not share my enthusiasm for that approach. Accordingly, we moved in a more, uh, conventional direction with a rock-solid photo of a vintage sawmill in action at a show in Hemlock, N.Y. To my mind, it's a great photo because it captures the essence of antique farm equipment shows: volunteerism, cooperation and concentration … apt topics, with a new show season just a heartbeat away.

If you don't have volunteers, your show will never get off the ground. Shows devour volunteers. It doesn't matter whether the show is huge or cozy, manpower is always the most urgent need and generally the most consistent challenge. If your volunteers are enthusiastic, it's as good as doubling your workforce. Visitors to your show may marvel at the display, but if they get a chilly reception, that's what they tell the folks back home.

Cooperation among those troops is critical. The best volunteers are willing to work for the greater good. They offer suggestions and feedback, they work as a team, they don't sabotage leadership. There is, as the old saw goes, no limit to the good that can be done when you don't care who gets the credit.

Finally, concentration. This is absolutely critical in an environment that blends thousands of curious people with massive and potentially dangerous equipment. Every show volunteer must focus on safety - personal safety and visitor safety - with total concentration. Shows are typically hot, noisy, dusty and crowded. Visitors move without looking, step without thinking. The best volunteer keeps his eye on the ball.

April fools? No sir! Here at Farm Collector, we're all business … at least until this summer, when the boss takes 10 days off. The first-ever Farm Collector Swimsuit Issue? Probably not, but anything is possible. Stay tuned!