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One of the hottest commodities at the annual Farm Technology Days show isn't just for kids. The limited-edition commemorative farm toy is sought after each year by serious (an some not so serious) collectors. 

The signature offering has become a tradition since first being offered at the 1994 Wisconsin Farm Progress Show in Columbia County, according to former general manager Ron Schuler who has helped to document the history of the show.

"The county selects a tractor or other agricultural machine and arranges to have a toy scale model manufactured. Only 1000 of the commemorative models are manufactured and sold, making it a valuable collector machine after the show," Schuler said.

The inaugural model chosen by the Columbia county committee was an International, model 1568.

Many of the toys have a nostalgic connection to showgoers. The most recent commemorative model sold was sold in 2017, at the Farm Technology Days show in Kewaunee County. That year the committee chose a 1975-1985 Gehl 800 forage harvester. Manufactured in Wisconsin by the Gehl Co. at West Bend, this harvester had not previously been made at a model size.

This 1/16th size die-cast model comes with interchangeable model heads for both hay pickup and corn chopping. It was made by SpecCast Collectibles of Dyersville, IA.

Dale Swoboda, avid toy collector and chair of the 2017 toy committee, says the collectible toy cost the committee about $100,000. Last year's FTD committee at the 2018 show opted against commissioning a commemorative toy.

However, the tradition is back this year, with the Jefferson County FTD committee choosing a 1600 Oliver with 74H mounted corn picker (1/16 die-cast model). The tractor is currently available to purchase for $185 plus shipping and handling. Or purchasers may elect to pick up the model at the show.

For more information or to order a collectible tractor today, contact Jefferson County UW-Extension at 920-674-7295 or jeffcoftd2019@gmail.com.

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