OVFS down for the count but toy sales go ahead

Above, Henry Staal holds a Minneapolis Moline Model U model tractor. Van Dusen photo, Nation Valley News

Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News

RUSSELL — In the wake of the cancellation of next year’s Ottawa Valley Farm Show, Eastern Ontario antique machinery collectors have decided to move ahead with two toy-related activities that have in the past been held at Ottawa’s EY Centre in conjunction with the show.

They’re members of the largest collectors club this side of Toronto, Vintage Iron & Traditions of Eastern Ontario, with about 200 members. Their kick-off gathering in any given year has been in conjunction with the March OVFS, with the club staging a large display of machinery and other farm-related artifacts at the entrance.

For the past five years, part of the VITEO presence has been sale of boxed collectible model tractors with a different one chosen every year largely based on whether a member has the full sized working version to bring to the show. One hundred models are ordered every time and they sell for $100. Proceeds are used to help support club activities.

For the first time in 2019, VITEO added a very successful farm toy auction with proceeds to be used to buy and deliver food baskets to needy rural families, an effort coordinated by Navan’s Wyatt McWilliams, well known for charitable causes such as Hay West and Ottawa Food Aid Day.

Featured on the box of the toy tractor, a whimsical sticker shows the Minneapolis Moline wearing a mask. Van Dusen photo, Nation Valley News

When the 2020 OVFS was cancelled because of COVID-19, so was the auction. However, VITEO covered costs for the food baskets which were distributed for the second year in a row.

What with uncertainty created by the pandemic, the time it takes starting now to organize the OVFS, and EY management unsure how soon in the New Year it will be able to accommodate any events, the 2021 show has also been cancelled.

Usually an active club with field trips, members visits, and an annual picnic, 2020 has been a very quiet year for VITEO with all scheduled gatherings crushed by Covid, said Russell’s Henry Staal, founding president of the club and still on the board of directors 10 years later.

That’s an extra disappointment, Staal said over lunch on Saturday, the fact the club has been unable to celebrate its 10th year of building a strong organization dedicated to keeping the spirit of rural Ontario thriving. While most members are collectors, you don’t have to be one to take part, the past president noted. The slogan is: “Help us bring the past into the future.”

Partly to give VITEO a lift and partly because they feel it’s too long to wait for the next farm show, directors have decided to sell the collectible tractor ordered for the 2020 OVFS through direct contact with board members, a list of whom is available at vintageiron.ca.

Intended to have been sold at the 2020 OVFS, the current model is the Minneapolis Moline Model U with 100 available; Staal has the full-sized luxury version among an endless collection of antiques in his former dairy barn and shed.

In a light-hearted reference to the times, a sticker has been added to the box showing the MM U with a face mask across the grill.

As for the toy auction, 100 items in storage since the beginning of the year will be put up for online sale Nov. 22-29 through Hibid Auctions (Ontario.hibid.com) with Russell’s James family of auctioneers coordinating the event. Food baskets will once again be distributed with the proceeds.

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