By Staff
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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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Lowden, Iowa resident Edwin Berry's exhibit is overseen by his grandson at the Biggest 'Little' Engine Show near Stanhope, Iowa.

Country Relics Village 3290 Briggs Woods Road Stanhope, Iowa

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

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

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.

Gas Engine Magazine
Gas Engine Magazine
Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines