BISMARCK — With the holidays over and Seasonal Affective Disorder gripping the region, it does one's heart good to think of spring — green grass; leaves on trees; crops growing in fields.
With a few more months to go before any of that happens, a winter respite in the past has been Danville Area Community College's annual Farm Toy Show. When Jennifer Heidrick heard the college would not be hosting the January gathering any more, she took matters into her own hands and is putting together one of her own.
The Farm Toy Show — in memory of her father, Ron Huls — will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 27 at Bismarck-Henning Rossville-Alvin Cooperative High School, 17268 E 2750 North Road, Bismarck.
"It was a thing my son really enjoyed with my dad," Heidrick said. "My dad unfortunately passed away this last summer. My dad built (her son, Bradley) this big table and he builds farm displays on them."
Farm displays are a farm toy show staple. Usually built with 1/64th-size toy tractors, displays usually also have barns, sheds, silos, crops and even live stock. The most hard-core in the hobby will even have complete back stories for the history of the farm, such as why that John Deere is rusting in a ditch out back, or how many generations the farm has been in the family.
"He decided to take (the display to the DACC show) three or four years ago and he just fell in love with it and wanted to do it every single year. He was really looking forward to doing it this year, too, even though my dad wasn't going to be there. It was something I didn't want to disappoint my son — that there wasn't going to be one."
So Heidrick talked to Marlana Ackerman, whose husband owns Ackerman Farm Toys. The Ackermans have a grandson the same age as Jennifer's son, and the two became friends at the DACC shows. Ackerman said they'd love to be a vendor at a new show, and things proceeded from there.
Children can attend a "Kids Building Workshop" at 12:30 p.m. sponsored by the Bismarck Lucky Clovers 4-H Club. Heidrick said she hopes to help spark an interest in kids to build models, with a focus on using everyday household objects to build things for a farm display, and an explanation on scales. She said it's not required to sign up ahead of time for this free class, but it would be helpful to know how many will be coming.
Heidrick, who lives in Bismarck, but is an art teacher at Armstrong Township High School, knew that BHRA just started an FFA program, and all proceeds will benefit the future farmers at the Bismarck school. Admission at the door is $2, but children 12 and younger will be free.
There will also be breakfast and lunch items available for purchase.
Whether someone is into farm toys or the real deal, Heidrick knows the potential for agriculture in Vermilion County. She said she wants to teach children more about 4-H and the local fair.
"I wanted to talk to kids about Vermilion County Fair and how they have an open show, and how it's a fantastic opportunity to meet other people doing the same thing. Just get kids more involved in stuff like that; stuff I liked when I was younger. It seems like numbers have gone down in the open show, and I want to build it back up a bit."
And keeping a local farm toy show going is a great start.
IF YOU GO
The Farm Toy Show is set for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at Bismarck-Henning Rossville-Alvin Cooperative High School, 17268 E 2750 North Road, Bismarck. Admission: $2 at door, children 12 and younger are free. For workshop sign-up, call Jennifer Heidrick at 497-0458. To be a vendor, call Marlana Ackerman at 493-7835.