URBANA — Fred Eberhardt made the three-hour trek from Quincy to sell toy tractors — some for more than $500 — at this weekend’s Illinois Farm Toy Show.
“This year, I brought a lot of custom items that were handcrafted,” he said. “They’re very expensive, but some of these craftsmen are really good.”
But Eberhardt doesn’t necessarily expect to make much money from the sale, which continues from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today.
“I just love listening to the older farmers talk about the machinery that they struggled with years ago, some of the same machinery I grew up with,” Eberhardt said.
A collector of farm toys for decades, Eberhardt has been coming to the Illini Farm Toy Show at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center (formerly known as the Urbana Garden Hotel) for years. He is one of about 20 vendors at the show, and about 600 to 800 guests typically show up for the two-day event.
Tickets cost $3 for adults and $2 for kids age 6 to 12. Kids under 6 are free.
“A lot of people who attend are collectors,” said Lynn Doran, the show’s chairwoman. “If you have all of the John Deeres, but are missing one of them, this is the kind of place you’d come to get that hard-to-find tractor.”
The toy show will also have a consignment auction at 10:30 a.m. today.
“If anyone in the community has farm toys around and want to get rid of them, they can consign those and get rid of those,” Doran said.
Chris Karr, a farmer and hog caller from Seymour, brought his collection of toys to the show, but not to sell. He said the toys bring “a flashback to what they did with Grandpa or their dad.”
“A banker or someone in a non-agricultural setting can see these toys, and they want to collect them because that brings back memories," he said.
Karr said he values the toys because “toys tell history.”
“We can use toys to go back and educate the younger generation as to how we farmed years ago in the ’40s and ’50s,” he added. “And then we can show the progression with toys, as the toys have changed. It’s a visual aid. It’s heritage.”