Drawing interest from the young and young at heart, the 18th annual Chatham-Kent Toy Show returns on Sunday.
Rob Sterling, who organizes the event with his father, Carl, said it’s another growth year for the show.
“There’s definitely lots of interest,” he said of the show, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the John D. Bradley Convention Centre. “When we think it isn’t going to get any bigger, we get a surprise and it grows a little bit.”
Back in 2001, the inaugural edition of the toy show had a heavy agricultural focus, based on ag-related dioramas and toys.
“As organizers, that’s what we knew,” Sterling said. “But it’s grown to a wide range of toys since then. Certainly the ag toys are still a pretty popular part of the show, however.”
In fact, Sterling said some of the vintage agricultural models draw the best attention.
“We’ve seen people go through the show where somebody points out something that reminds them of an item they’ve seen before. A toy tractor or a car – ‘I used to have one of those,’” he said.
Sterling said this year’s show offers an ever-expanding array of diverse toys on display.
“We’ve got Melissa & Doug toys. Funko Pops also seem to be popular. We’ve also got comic books and historic books,” he said. “It’s quite a range.”
Sterling added there are about 75 vendors registered for the show.
The show is also a fundraiser. Proceeds go to the 4-H farm toy club, Essex-Kent Junior Farmers and Chatham Outreach for Hunger.
“Year after year, we’ve been able to give a cheque to Outreach for Hunger for a few thousand dollars,” Sterling said. “It’s great to be able to contribute to what they do.”
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children, and no charge for kids six and under.
Sterling has been involved for all 18 years of the show, but credits his father for getting it going.
“It was my dad’s idea to get it started. I was really there just displaying my toy collection when it started,” he said. “But as I got older, I got more involved in the organizational aspect of it. It’s a family event for us.”
Some of the vendors seem almost like family as well.
“It’s exciting as organizers to see exhibitors and vendors who have been coming all 18 years, but we also have new people interested year after year,” he said.