Double Feature Show: Dairy Collectibles and Hay Equipment

Dairy collectors and hay equipment fans join forces at joint show.

| October 2007

Take a bunch of dairy collectibles, throw in vintage hay equipment and related pieces, encourage the kind of cross-pollination collectors specialize in and what do you get? A remarkable assortment of antique farm tools and equipment.

That's exactly what transpired in early June near Iowa City, Iowa, when the 21st annual national convention of the North American Dairy Foundation was held in conjunction with the second annual Hay Tool Swap Meet and Show (for more on hay tools, see Farm Collector, August 2006). While the two groups have no plans to merge, the dual event was a reflection of undeniable realities.

"Our group is not growing," admits Dr. Paul Dettloff, editor of the dairy foundation's quarterly member publication, the Cream Separator & Dairy Newsletter. "But collectors are collectors. Some of the dairy collectors have hay items, and the hay tool collectors are showing interest in dairy things. There's a little-known gene called 'packrat' and we've got it!"

The hay tool collectors group, just two years old, has no formal means of blanket communication other than mailings. Like good neighbors, the dairy collectors offered space in their publication. Today, the newsletter goes to about 140 dairy collectors and about 40 hay tool collectors, and contains information of interest to each group. "I think the dairy collectors have welcomed the hay people," Paul says. "There's a kind of camaraderie. It's been kind of spontaneous. They help us and we help them."

The hay tool collectors group is loosely structured. As yet, the group has little interest in official trappings like bylaws, minutes or officers. But you can't argue with success: The group's mailing list is at 225 and growing; about 100 members attended the dual show.

About 25 members attended the groups annual meeting in June. "They're almost like a family," Paul says. "They come from all over the country." The group puts a priority on preserving dairy antiques … and on fun. "We usually have a display, swap meet and auction," Paul says. "We've had conventions where we separated milk and made butter. We've run Babcock testers at conventions."