Well the 2009 Iola Vintage Military & Gun Show is history now. In spite of the heavy rains and thunderstorms coupled with the oppressive heat and humidity (by Wisconsin standards) and the competition of a ”National” military vehicle show somewhere in Northern Indiana we had what looked to me like a record crowd. (Actually paid attendance was 100 people shy of the record.) This 2009 show was the 18th annual show in Iola and I am proud to say that I have been a participant in each one since the original which was a WWII veterans reunion hosted by Chet Krause. Since then the show has grown steadily like an oak tree. Just out of curiosity I asked Mary Schwartz for this year’s statistics. I must add that without Mary’s help over the years the Iola Military Show would not be nearly as large and smooth running as it is today.
Since Iola is a small village in central Wisconsin of just under 1300 people it may be hard to imagine that it hosts a major antique car show every July which draws an average of 125,000 people and is also growing a very social military collectibles show. This year for example the Iola Military Show had a paid attendance of 7,231 which is only 100 shy of our record set last year. There were 99 venders set up both indoors and out. The indoor gun and swap areas had 103 tables full of merchandise plus 15 tables of exhibits. There were 341 outdoor swap spaces with enough stuff for sale to start a small war. There were 55 military vehicles on display and 109 multinational re-enactors running around to keep things interesting. On the west end of the grounds a dedicated group of specialists were exhibiting 88 antique tractors and 60 assorted kinds of other antique machinery. It was a continual chorus of hissing and sputtering which made me glad not to have had to work on a farm in the so called good old days. Next year weather permitting I’m sure we will set a new record for the show. Hope to see you there.
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