This year was the 36th Sublette Toy Show, and the celebrated brand was Oliver. On March 17, the Illinois event started with a bit of icy rain that coated the tractors on display like green metal sculptures.
Other brands also were lined up on the streets. One Ford with a Funk conversion made for a lovely icy photo-op, and although the day started out with leftover freezing rain from Friday night, by Sunday temperatures were up to 51 degrees, showing that anything can happen in spring weather in Illinois.
All the ice was gone, and the tractors set up in front of the huge grain silos as a backdrop in the sun made for great walking-around weather while listening to country music cranked out by 3D Sound of Dixon.
Along with toys and tractors, there were also some stellar trucks – like a beautiful Ford F-350 that had “Johnie’s Garage” printed on the side. This antique truck owner was a Minneapolis-Moline fan, according to the MM label that advertised at one time an MM Sales and Service with only a two-digit phone number. The truck came from Lee Center, Ill.
One unusual Oliver tractor on display was a 1967 “El Toro” Model 1950. Owned by Melvin, Sharon, Michael and Trese McNinch, they shared a bit of the history of this unique vehicle. The “El Toro” or “The Bull” was the name given to certain tractors with optional four-wheel drive and Terra-Tires.
The tires were designed by Oliver and produced by Goodyear, to be able to run through swamps and other boggy terrain; one look at these giant tires, and that claim is easily believable.
While Sublette is a small burg, there were some shops open in the somewhat new Village Mini Mall during the show, like the coffee shop that was bustling. The entire town was decked out, and signs even honored St. Patrick’s Day, such as a green wreath outside the post office with the note: “Welcome Farm Toy Antique Tractor Show.”
On Facebook, the Sublette Farm Toy & Antique Tractor Show put out a St. Patrick’s Day wish with the great Irish blessing: “May the road rise to meet you/May the wind always be at your back/May the sun shine warm upon your face/The rains fall soft upon your fields and/Until we meet again/May God hold you in the palm of His Hand.”
Trucks and tractors were outside while inside the buildings were toys everywhere. The show offered seven buildings filled with toys and more than 200 antique tractors and a semi tractor display.
Inside the school, organizers served breakfast every morning. There was also an operating train display and on Sunday, a craft show along with the always popular silent auction, which this year even included a lottery Christmas tree that may have paid off in a big way.
During this two-day show, the Village of Sublette raises funds for its sports and other civic items. On Saturday night organizers had a banquet with a speaker and gave out FFA and 4-H scholarships to local students.
During the show, Girl Scouts are everywhere and while many people can say no to a cookie, they can’t say no to a little girl. This event supports youth in all kinds of ways.
Some unusual toys were spotted, like one plastic toy that no one could recall which company made it, that had an open engine with what appeared to be huge moving pistons. Another cool find was a roller that the vendor said was a homemade job.
There was a Sublette collectible truck, a yellow 1957 Chevy Sidestep pickup with an Oliver logo on the side. It sold for $35 and was offered in limited quantities. Vendors were also set up with tractor memorabilia, and visitors could find anything from jewelry to cups to literature.
The Sublette Community Center has been renovated and the changes to this building are quite lovely. Next year’s 37th show will be held on March 16-17. Search online for the Sublette Farm Toy & Antique Tractor Show Facebook page, for details.
Readers with questions or comments for Cindy Ladage may write to her in care of this publication. Learn more of Cindy’s finds and travel in her blog, “Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl,” at http://travelingadventuresofafarmgirl.com