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Busy shows visited in Fargo, Oshkosh
By Clifford Mishler
March 17, 2017

While for many years my numismatic travels have typically gotten underway with trips to the Florida United Numismatists show, or the New York International, that was not the case this year. My first show this year was the 57th annual event of the Red River Valley Coin Club in Fargo, N.D., on the last weekend in January. Three weeks later I took in the 34th annual Wisconsin Coin Expos event in Oshkosh on the third Sunday of February.

My drive to Fargo got under way at about 7 o’clock on Friday morning, having treated Snickers to his customary morning walk before heading out.

Driving by way of Stevens Point to Wausau, where 60 miles and an hour later I picked up Wisconsin 29 westbound; it was about 10:20 a.m. when I pulled off at Minnesota’s St. Croix Welcome Center rest area on I-94 for a quick break. From there it was on to Clearwater, near St. Cloud, arriving there at about 11:45 a.m., having logged 290 miles.

I met up there with a couple over lunch at the Nelson Bros. restaurant. One of the pair possesses a longtime family tie to Iola. We spent the better part of two hours visiting about his tie and involvement in historically preserving, in a couple Iola Historical Society presentations, the heritage from which he had sprung.

For lunch I treated myself to a bowl of tomato dumpling soup and a hearty house salad. Our visit paved the way for the family to participate in embodying taking their historic preservation involvement to a third level.

Back on the road up I-94 to Fargo by 1:30 p.m., it was just three hours later when I arrived there, having driven 468 miles for the day.

Returning to my car after registering for my Baymont Inn accommodations, I quickly exchanged greetings with John Jackson from Sioux City, Iowa, and Don McCulloch from Spirit Lake, Iowa, dealers who were just arriving.

After settling into my room, it was about 5:30 p.m. when I wandered down to the D-Woods lounge, where I found John and Don, along with fellow dealers Dale Winters and Dave Gurney, who were to be joined by others, relaxing with libations and snacks.

Noting that there was a Hawaiian beer on draft – Kona Big Wave – I ordered a tall glass and joined in on sharing coin dealing and show attendance war stories. It was about 7 o’clock, as the second glass of beer was draining away. Two beers are pretty much my limit these days. I excused myself to head off to dinner. On this occasion it was a bowl of George’s chili supreme and a pork tenderloin sandwich at a Culver’s a short drive out 13th Avenue, from which I returned and called it a day at about 8 o’clock.

Saturday dawned as a pleasant, quiet morning for Fargo at this time of the year, with the temperature in the low 20s. It was about 6:30 a.m. when I headed out for a constitutional along 13th Avenue east to University Drive and back, returning about an hour later. After showering and dressing for the day, I headed down to the Bistro Thirteen to avail myself of the Baymont’s complimentary breakfast offerings.

It was about 8:30 a.m. when I found my way over to the ballroom where the Red River Valley Coin Club’s annual show has been hosted for many years. The bourse was a sold-out arrangement of 64 tables.

After opening to the public at 9 o’clock, the aisles quickly filled with collectors eagerly pursuing their interests. The turnout was great and the room literally packed until around mid-afternoon, after which it slowly thinned. From about noon to one I enjoyed bantering with show organizer Bob Hanna and several fellow RRVCC members at a lunch table on the floor over box lunches that were available to the dealers.

Later in the afternoon I enjoyed an extended conversation with Numismatic News subscriber Jack Haymond as we met and chatted in one of the aisles, touching on a range of subjects concerning satisfactions and dissatisfactions where collecting, the hobby and political environments are concerned.

Shortly after the show closed down for the day I again headed off on a short drive out 13th Avenue to Red Lobster, where I treated myself to a fried clam strips appetizer and salmon New Orleans entree.

Sunday again dawned pleasantly calm for my morning walking regimen, with the temperature having climbed into the upper 20s range, this time out 13th Avenue west to 45th street and back, returning shortly after 6 a.m..

Just as for my outbound drive, it was right on 7  a.m. when I hit the road to return home. It was about 9:45 when I again pulled off at Clearwater, this time for a late breakfast at Nelson Bros., opting for a very hearty and tasty dish of cinnamon fritter nugget French toast with wild rice sausage.

Back on the road an hour later, after crossing the St. Croix river back into Wisconsin at Hudson, it was noon when I pulled off for gas shortly thereafter, my mileage log for the day having climbed to 266. It was shortly after 3:15 p.m. when I pulled into the garage at home, the mileage log having climbed to 469. And, Snickers insisted that I take him on his evening walk early, before unpacking my suitcase . . . or relaxing in the recliner!

Unseasonably warm and inviting conditions greeted my outing to this year’s Oshkosh show. Unlike most years, it was not snowing, and there was no snow in the forecast. Heading out from home at about 8 o’clock, the drive down was a bit roundabout, first heading up towards Iola, so retired Krause staffer Bob Wilhite could join me on this outing, resulting in a 69-mile drive, and a 9:30 a.m. arrival at the Oshkosh Convention Center.

With spaces in the parking lot across the street from the convention center at a premium, it was not surprising to discover upon entering the show hall that the attendee turnout was already overwhelming. The table configuration was maxed out, with all occupied and busy. Attendance was so solid it was only with some difficulty that I was able to make my way up and down the aisles; in negotiating them I was reminded of cramped conditions experienced at the old New York City shows. This show was by far the fullest, busiest I can remember through many years of attendance.

Undoubtedly, the onset of unseasonably warm conditions, with the day’s temps in the mid-50s outside, and it being too early for spring yard work, but at the same time too nice to stay inside at home, contributed to the result.

I have to believe that any dealer set up at the show had to do well, unless he didn’t have the right stuff or pricing. Personally, I would have preferred more breathing room in the aisles and more access opportunities at the tables, but the atmosphere was certainly buoyant.

Brief conversations engaged in with some of the participating dealers indicated that attendees were in a buying/selling mood; that has likewise been the case, several indicated, in their shops and other dealings over the past four months.

Among the chance conversations enjoyed along the way was one with Mike Slattery, a collector and school teacher from over in the Sheboygan area on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan shoreline. A member of the Sheboygan Coin Club, he shared with me his interest and pursuit of getting more of his school’s youngsters interested in coin collecting. We discussed and explored the opportunities that might be engaged through involvement with various hobby organizations to develop resources for motivating their development.

Attendance appeared to have abated only slightly by the time Bob and I opted to take leave after about two hours, having congratulated show organizer Randy Miller on a most successful renewal, after shopping the floor to our satisfaction given the crowded circumstances.

Heading out to the I-41 expressway, we opted for lunch at a very busy Perkins before hitting the road for home, where I contented myself with their quite tasty chicken pot pie selection. The 71-mile drive home that followed was again about 90 minutes in duration, which meant I got home at about 3:30.

Snickers was again insistent that my first order of business would be accompanying him on his evening outing.

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