Dave and Debbie Sharp
Barry Maurey and son
On Wednesday afternoon, March 6 as Toy Farmer employees were raking snow off our office building roof, I left the farm for a 13-day road trip. That first night I stayed in Menomonie, Wisc.
On March 7, I arrived at the Crown Plaza West, Indianapolis in time to set up for the Lafayette Farm Toy Show which opened at noon the following day. We had told people that we would be making the National Farm Toy Show tractors announcement at this show but had been advised on Wednesday that the licensor for the show tractors wanted his dealers to receive the information the same time we made the announcement and the estimate for getting that information into their parts system was two weeks.
This information was shared with those who came in to hear what we were planning. One gentleman was disappointed and even without knowing what the 1/16 scale tractor would be, he insisted on giving us a signed, blank check. For the past two years he had made his purchase of the tractor at this show and didn’t want to wait until the order blanks came in the mail. We didn’t have pricing on the show tractors, yet which is why it was a “blank check.”
The morning the show opened we received an email with pictures of the 1/16th scale gold plated Allis-Chalmers tractors but were told the delivery date for the 440s was possibly delayed until May.
The following is our itinerary for the rest of our road trip with some comments and a few pictures.
March 8-10—Lafayette Farm Toy Show— We lovingly refer to this event as the “Lafayapolis” Show. The history of this show started in Lafayette, Ind. After several years the hotel in Lafayette had deteriorated and the show moved, for a few years, to Lebanon, Ind. and finally to two different venues on the western side of Indianapolis. Interestingly in the time it has had its home in Indianapolis, the airport also moved and for two years when trying to find the Crown Plaza with my GPS on my phone my final destination would take me directly in front of the departure doors at the airport.
We seldom get out of our hotel room at this show, but we really look forward to those who come in to visit us. The original organizer of this show, Bob Zarse always stops in to talk with us and I usually remind him that I have never been to visit him. This year I told him that I was on this road trip and made arrangements to visit with him and his wife Kathy.
Three FFA girls helped load up the van on Sunday after the show closed and for the first time in several years, I was able to kick back and relax instead of getting back on the road to head back to LaMoure.
March 11—Monday morning I spent visiting with Dave and Debbie Sharp to discuss the August National Toy Truck ‘N Construction show which is held in Indianapolis. My goal was to leave their house at noon and head north to make the scheduled visit to the Zarse farm near Reynolds, Ind. I also had decided to take pictures of the people I visited. My internal clock was not working very well with traveling from central to eastern time along with daylight-saving time having kicked in the day before. I used my phone to take pictures of Dave and Debbie in their kitchen. Their clock on kitchen stove had not been changed for daylight-saving time, so when I left and saw that my phone had changed, I realized I was already an hour late in my plan to get to the Zarse’s.
I had a wonderful afternoon visiting with Bob and Kathy Zarse on their farm in Reynolds. Bob had warned me I wouldn’t be seeing any toys--he sold his collection many years ago. Their home is warm and inviting and filled with pictures of their family. I had a great time visiting these old friends but forgot to take any pictures of them or their farm which is surrounded by windmills. When I was leaving, Bob asked me if I eat popcorn and gave me this Lipton Tea jug of popcorn that was harvested on his farm last fall. Since it was late, I decided to stay in Lebanon, Ind. instead of planning to return to Indianapolis that night.
March 12, Tuesday—That morning, I met with salesperson at the Wyndham to discuss contracts for 2020-2021 National Truck ‘N Construction Show. I stayed overnight at hotel.
March 13—I was really lazy and didn’t leave Indianapolis until check-out time. I had arranged to drive south to Evansville, Ind. to visit the gentleman, Chris Wathen, who is the current owner of the Steiger, “Pink Panther.” Many years ago, I had made a road trip on a quest to find this legendary tractor and found it on a farm in Tulala, Okla. I was able to get reacquainted with the “Pink Panther.” There is a fascinating story about the owner of this and many other 4-wheel drive tractors. We have plans to share his story in the future. I did take Chris’s picture with a very special Steiger
I left that afternoon and drove to Peoria IL and stayed two nights at a Staybridge Hotel in downtown Ill. in order to wash some clothes and work a day in the hotel. The weather was not good at home. The plan had been for Wendi to fly into Quad Cities airport, pick her up to do the Sublette, Ill. toy show.
March 14—I ate at a well-known restaurant, Jim’s Steakhouse, which is close to Caterpillar headquarters in downtown Peoria. There I saw this model of a Komatsu 960E mining dump truck manufactured by First Gear. The real trucks were made in Peoria and this model was apparently a gift to the owner of the restaurant and signed by the person who made the gift, but I couldn’t make out the signature.
March 15—We made the decision with Wendi that she would not be able to get to Fargo to fly to Quad Cities to meet me for the Sublette Show. I left Peoria and drove to Sublette—checked out show venue and proceeded to the hotel in Mendota. Sublette is a very small town of 400 and does not have a motel.
March 16-17—Sublette Toy Show. One of these two fellows Barry Maurey was responsible for our attendance at the show and his son was a big help getting our van unloaded for the show.
Surprise, I woke up to snow in Mendota Sunday morning. Later, long-time friend, Buzz Barton who helps us at the National Farm Toy Show, showed up wearing all Toy Farmer gear. We had a great visit. At close of show, after loading up the van, I drove to Dyersville, Iowa to stay the night.
March 18—Monday Morning I met with Shirley White, Jay Westemeier and Pat Wessels to discuss the tractors for the National Farm Toy Show and some possible future projects. I made a decision to check in at First Gear in Peosta to sign off on the National Toy Truck ‘N Construction truck before heading back home to LaMoure. Arrived home at about 10:00 that night to a yard that had thankfully been plowed out. It was a great trip, but I was very happy to be home again.
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