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Kids, adults enjoy collecting farm toys
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Once sold to promote the use of tractors, farm toys are popular collectibles for young and old alike. An upcoming farm toy show in Starkville will attract people with recent experience and others with fond memories of treasured possessions from long ago.
The fourth annual farm toy show will take place Feb. 19 at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station Conference Center, also known as the old bull barn, on Highway 182 (about a mile west of Humphrey Coliseum). The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and last as long as visitors and toy owners are present.
John Byrd, event organizer and a weed specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, has been a collector since he was a child. Now, in his 40s, he sees farm toys as an important link to agriculture's heritage.
"Companies started selling farm toys as tractors began to replace animals as the primary source of power on the farm," Byrd said. "Many tractor manufacturers contracted with toy producers to create toy models of their main tractors and implements."
When a farmer purchased a new tractor for the farm, he often received a toy model to take home for the children. Farm toys from the 1930s and '40s were made of cast iron. Byrd said the details of the earliest models are crude by today's standards, but they are highly collectible. Beginning in the 1950s and continuing today, diecast composite metals and plastics began to be used in their production.
"One of the best things about collecting farm toys is getting together and showing off your collection, looking at other collections, meeting new people, and looking at new toys to add to your collection," Byrd said. "Some people collect only tractors, while others collect tractors as well as implements."
Byrd said many collectors rely on farm equipment dealers to obtain their toys, while others use the Internet, mail order or attend farm toy shows to find new additions for their collections.
For more information, contact Byrd at (662) 323-8423 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.