Last year we didn’t get to attend the Gateway Mid-America Toy Show and the transition from winter into spring wasn’t quite complete. This year will be the 35th show. which will be held on February 5-7, 2016 at the Sheraton Lakeside Chalet in St. Louis’s West Port Plaza. This year -Lord willing and the creek don’t rise- we are going!
While we enjoy the farm toys, this show offers a chance to see some new and different custom builders plus my favorite, the farm layout and scratch built contest. Every year there is something I never saw before. In years past we saw a grain elevator built by a young man that used the elevator to carry a ring to his fiancée when he proposed. We saw a cotton gin and cranberry harvester to name a few. Of course there is also the competition for the ugly toy.
If I wasn’t writing about them for Toy Farmer, and Farm World, I would try to find something to enter in this category I am always amazed to see how ugly a toy can really be.
Reality hits when you don’t see collectors from the past whether due to passing away or retiring. This past year I lost my dad in the midst of the show and I look forward to going to help alleviate the sorrow of the year anniversary that is coming up. We always meet with dear friends and go to dinner. It has become a tradition and missing it last year nothing was quite the same. But then, after a loss, nothing ever is the same, we just adjust to a new reality.
Anyway, I will be set up with my books at the show and checking out all the exciting toys, layouts and literature and memorabilia. This show always has a salesman sample or two as well that knocks my socks off.
The show is hosted by Roy Lee Baker, a member of the National Farm Toy Hall of Fame, his wife Audrey and Faye Baker Knoche. Roy Lee shared what most collectors say is their favorite part of this annual event, “We enjoy seeing the people every year.”
Seeing Roy Lee and his family makes my day every time. Roy Lee always has something to share and directs me to see a sight I may have otherwise missed along the way.
According to their press release from www.gatewaytoyshow.com, “This family friendly event will begin with exhibitor spaces and room trading opening Friday February 5th at 10:00 a.m. in the morning, and will remain open until 6:00 p.m. Thousands of farm toys will be set up in 150 hotel rooms along with 200 exhibitor tables. Trading rooms #101-#350 have the option to remain open after 6:00 p.m. for after-hours room trading. This is a time when friendships are forged and bargains are found! “We have 150 trading rooms and probably 200 exhibitor tables in the 18,500 square feet of floor space in the Versailles Ballroom, Matterhorn, St. Moritz, Bern, Alpine, Lugano and Zermatt board rooms. “We take up the entire hotel,” Roy Lee said.
Saturday February 6th is the Farm Toy Consignment Auction with Mark Sypherd of Aumann Auctions Inc. auctioneering in the 5,040 square feet Zurich Ballroom. The auction features over 450+ collectible farm toys and related merchandise for sale. Item viewing begins at 7:00 a.m. The auction begins at 9:00 a.m. and typically runs until 4:00 p.m. Exhibitor tables and room trading open from 7 a.m. till 6 p.m. Room trading optional to ??.
The press release continues, “Saturday is also the day of both the Model Contest and Farm Layout Contest. “We have our model show all day long on Saturday. People bring barns, farm scenes and make their own toys. There are a variety of high quality 1/64th thru 1/8th scale models crafted by some of the nation’s most talented and innovative craftsman on display for your enjoyment.” Roy Lee added.
The show continues on Sunday February 7th and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A pedal tractor drawing is held at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Come and see me in the Versailles room and check out one of my books, or the children’s farm books that Jane Aumann and I have written.
A stop at this iconic show will help ease the winter blues, offer a chance to see old friends or make new ones. If nothing else, it will get you out of the house and put a smile on your face. I hope to see you there.