Dyersville is known as the “Farm Toy Capitol of the World.”
Before I go any further, I feel that I need to admit even though I have lived in Dyersville for the past 8 years, I was always skeptical about what was so great about being the “Farm Toy Capitol of the World.” Collecting wasn’t in my family heritage, and growing up if we had a toy tractor, it was going to be played with in the mud and sand, and not kept clean on a shelf. Well, I am happy to share that after taking advantage of the opportunity to attend the 2015 Summer Farm Toy Show, I completely get it and am proud to live in the Farm Toy Capitol.
I started my morning walking through the vendors, just taking a few pictures, and was blown away at the sight. There were people everywhere! I know the show took place partly at Beckman Catholic High School, but I had no idea just how much of the school. There were vendors set up along the hallways, in the cafeteria, in classrooms, and in the gymnasium. Although I was there to capture the event and not to purchase, I was instantly intrigued. Each of the vendors had their hearts and souls poured into their booths and it was inspiring to see them set each box, tractor, or plastic hay bale out with love and respect. As I wandered around the cafeteria, I was drawn to the farm displays which were brought in and set up to be judged by Toy Show visitors. It was evident that hours of work went into each and every detail of the displays, from the grass turf fluffed up around the miniature out-buildings to the exact placement of the farmer and tractor in the 1/16 scale field.
As the show opened, others from around the nation began to enter, and there were smiles everywhere. Friends greeting each other after not seeing each other since the last toy show, comments about the beautiful Iowa weather, and memories shared about what was bought in the past filled the space. I became instantly intrigued about what brought people to Dyersville for the show. One family I talked to drove from Idaho because they have had collectors in their family passed down from their grandparents, and they wanted to make sure they were passed down to their own children.
The two-day show ended with parades of tractors. As the sun began to set, tractors rolled out of the Beckman Catholic High School parking lot and made their way down Main Street while throwing out candy, waving, and showing off their pride and joy. For me, seeing the community come together to celebrate agriculture, each other, and the town was enough to finally seal the deal: I am filled with pride to live in the Farm Toy Capitol of the World. There is no other event or festival I have been to where I see my 2-year-old as excited as the 80-something retired farmer or toy collector.
In Dyersville, we have a few months to take a break and start preparing for the next and even larger crowd to come into town for the National Farm Toy Show. This show takes on an entire other building and brings 2 to 3 times as many people and this year, I guarantee I will be included in the count as well!
Before the National Farm Toy Museum was even built in Dyersville, IA, Dyersville was known as the Farm Toy Capitol of the World. It’s a title that came without any real fanfare, but as the home to two farm toy manufacturers in 1984, the name was tossed around until it eventually helped to brand the town. Starting in 1977, the National Farm Toy Show brings thousands of spectators, traders and dealers to Dyersville each year to visit the museum and to work on their personal farm toy collections. A Summer Farm Toy Show was added in 1985 and this year they celebrated their 30th Anniversary. For more information contact the National Farm Toy Museum at 563-875-2727 or contact the Dyersville Chamber at 563-875-2311 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce