Brandon and Austin

Dan Schmitt, Omaha, Nebraska, assured the Carlsons' grandsons Brandon and Austin that the little grader could build just the right sized roads for Country Relics Little Village and Homestead near Stanhope, Iowa.

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Country Relics Village 3290 Briggs Woods Road Stanhope, Iowa 50246

Country Relics Village near Stanhope, Iowa, is gearing up for their sixth annual BIGGEST little Engine Show on June 21 & 22, 1997. Fond recollections of the good food, old and new friends and intriguing fellowship of the June '96 event have the exhibitors and vendors making plans to return every year. We invite each of you to join us, too, for the one-of-a-kind gas engine show in the unique setting of Country Relics Village.

Visitors from several Midwestern states and across Iowa enjoyed the many hand crafted working table top to scaled model steam, gasoline engines and farm machines, blacksmithing demonstrations by Gene Pippin of Marshalltown, Iowa, and the quality antique and craft market.

Varlen Carlson, a collector of full sized Farmall, McCormick Deering tractors and gasoline engines and memorabilia related to the five companies which formed the International Harvester Company in 1902, has had an appreciation for the old since he was a child and has been collecting since he began farming in 1955. The artifacts found in the little village may have been wife Fern's retaliation for attending engine shows around the country as she began to comb the antique flea markets for items from her childhood dreams.

Eight years and six buildings after the museum's humble beginning as a display area for the town's centennial celebration in 1991, Country Relics Village was awarded Iowa's 'Tourism Attraction of the Year' award.

A worldwide welcome awaits your visit. Come put a dot on our maps. Since the village officially opened to the public on May 1, 1990, visitors from 27 foreign countries and all but the states of Vermont and Rhode Island have marveled at the Carlsons' private collections acquired over the past 40 years.

Painstaking and tireless in the acquisition, restoration, preservation and development efforts, Country Relics Village welcomes volunteers and artifact donations.

The unique 'little' village was created in the beginning for the Carlsons' grandchildren, fourteen years back, when they numbered only three under age three. By the time of publication, each of Varlen and Fern's four children will have contributed three bundles of joy to play in the village complex. Now the even dozen range in age from newborn to 17 sharing in the enthusiasm and delight of their grandparents' finds, and they act as tour guides, barbecue waiters/waitresses or help in the gift shop.

Two of the 10 year old grandsons, Austin Carlson and Brandon Holtan, who live nearby and visit often, keep Grandpa busy coming up with building and landscaping projects tailored to keep them busy. In keeping with the model engine show, they hope soon to help build model engines and tractors.

Patricia Kuhnle, a volunteer angel, has painstakingly dusted and cleaned each artifact in every exhibit returning them lovingly to their realistic and tasteful places. Patricia remarked, 'I feel like I've been handling the crown jewels so many of the 'relics' are one of a kind, precious and irreplaceable.'

There is always a project in progress. The 1996 addition, which brings the building numbers to eleven, is a scaled down version of a once Stark Brothers Garagea combination car, implement and service station housing a collection of pedal cars spanning four decades, Kruse models of horse drawn farm implements, an office, parts and service departments with model gas pumps out front.

In your travels if you have enjoyed other villages like those in Dearborn, Michigan, or Minden, Nebraska, Country Relics Village near Stanhope, Iowa, beckons you. Depicting the 1920s and '30s in the scaled down, replicated version of small town Iowa, Country Relics 'little' village and homestead has a treasure trove of truly amazing children's furnishings, salesmen's samples and toys for a most delightful 'Stroll Into the Past' where the population of 49 'dummies' make the history of Iowa unfold before your eyes. Educational for the young and reminiscent for those who rememberbrick streets, rumble seats, party lines and simple times.

Supporters who have exhibited in the past five years agree Country Relics Village is a perfect setting for what is believed will become the BIGGEST little engine show.

All model enthusiasts, miniature horse showmen, blacksmiths, antiquity crafts and antique flea marketers are invited to join Country Relics Village for a weekend of fellowship and sharing on June 21 & 22, 1997. Set-up day will be Friday, June 20 with kettle corn, homemade ice cream and entertainment provided in the evening to help unwind and relax after set-up. There will be an exhibitors/vendors appreciation barbecue and entertainment on Saturday evening. To reserve exhibit or vendor space call Varlen or Fern at 1 -800-581-2904.

As you caravan to Iowa's 'biggest' 'little' Engine Show bring along a license plate in good condition from your state from the teens to the 30s (the narrow long type) for a new collection in the village entrance barn. Later years accepted from Hawaii and Alaska.

Although Varlen and Fern Carlson have no explanation how they ended up with a complete village in their backyard, they both admit, like most of the best things in life, 'it just happened' with a strong belief 'it was meant to be.' Fern related, 'We have been in some of the most unusual places and found some of the neatest things.'

Through visitor participation, Country Relics Village near Stanhope, Iowa, comes to life seven days a week, May through October, 9:00 - 5:00 daily and for ten evenings following Thanksgiving, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. for the delightful 'Stroll Into the Past' with Father Christmas.