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Impressive toy museum remains open to visitors

It didn’t take long for Rose Eymann to decide she was keeping her late husband’s toy museum open in Kenmare.

8/25/15 (Tue)

Steel wheel to present represented . . . Nearly an entire wall in the V&R Toy Museum in Kenmare is dedicated to John Deere tractors and other farm machinery, from the steel wheel days to the present. Business After Hours was held at the museum on Monday night.

By Marvin Baker

It didn’t take long for Rose Eymann to decide she was keeping her late husband’s toy museum open in Kenmare.

Her intent is to keep it going as long as she can, in memory of Vernon Eymann, whose lifelong dream was to build and collect toy farm machinery.

Vern Eymann passed away on Sept. 22, 2014.

On Monday night, merchants, friends and neighbors who may have never seen the museum or haven’t been there in a while, dropped by for Business After Hours to showcase the impressive site in northeast Kenmare.

“He started collecting in 1984 and started building in 1986,” Rose Eymann said. “He built Steigers, one Big Bud and these John Deere drills which is mind boggling because they have everything – they’re handmade.”

Eymann said Vern had an eye for toy collecting and building toys and he would often go out to area farms, take photographs of the machinery, measure it, then build the pieces necessary for a 1/16th replica model.

In most cases, she said he would build all the pieces, then put it together and paint it.

Her favorite is a Steiger tractor with a large “V” on the front.

“Each piece was cut, shaped, welded or soldered, all the pieces,” Eymann said. “Then, he put it together. It took about 200 hours to put a piece together.”

The toys were made in the Eymann garage, which Rose said turned into a shop in a hurry.

The finished products were taken into the house and displayed in the basement.

“He filled two walls and I told him I needed a wall for furniture,” she said. “Then in April 1999, we started building the museum and moved in it December 1999.”

Before Vern died, he had collected or built more than 2,000 pieces of toy equipment from John Deere to Case IH to Ford and Caterpillar.

The collection includes a tractor driven dump wagon that was Vern’s when he was a child in the 1940s. That piece remains in its original condition.

The collection includes numerous toy items their children collected over the years, as well as items made by Burke County Extension agent Dan Folske.

“But it wasn’t just toys,” Eymann said. “It was buckles, caps and guns.”

She has since removed the weapons, saying she didn’t feel comfortable with numerous guns in the museum.

The museum also includes a shelf with about 50 trophies that Vern Eymann won in his 30 year-hobby.

“The class was scratch build,” she said. “We got those trophies from toy shows.”

And she said they attended them all over the years, including shows in LaMoure, Fargo, Aberdeen, S.D., Montana and the National Toy Show in Dyersville, Iowa.

She said they never displayed the collection in Dyersville. Rather they went to get ideas, purchase pieces or exchange stories with other collectors.

They would also purchase pieces through the national Toy Farmer magazine and dealers the couple came to know after several shows.

And because many ran in series, that became an incentive as well.

He also made serial numbers for the more than 30 items he built from scratch.

“It was a dream and he fulfilled it,” Eymann said. “It is very well organized.”

In the beginning, the intent was to collect John Deere equipment, but that quickly changed as she said, “it wasn’t as much fun, you know.”

People from all over the world have visited the V&R Toy Museum and she has the guest book to prove it.

Most people come from surrounding states and the prairie provinces, but visitors have dropped in from as far away as England and Australia.

The museum is located 517 3rd Ave. NE in Kenmare and is open to those who may want to take a look.

Eymann wanted to be included in Business After Hours because she said numerous locals aren’t aware of the toy museum and others may not have seen it in a long time.

The items in the museum are not for sale and Eymann said she turned down an offer from the Pioneer Village to have the collection displayed there.

However, there are several actual tractors in the back of the museum that Eymann said she is trying to sell.

“The unfinished tractors are for sale, but the toys aren’t,” she said. “It’s just a museum.”

And last December, the Triple T Toy Show in Minot dedicated its show to Vernon Eymann who was well known by many people who attended that popular show in Minot.

“My intent is to keep this going as long as I can,” Eymann said. “It was a fun hobby and sometimes a challenge looking for something you haven’t got.”

What else is interesting about the V&R Toy Museum is that Vern Eymann maintained a full-time  job as mechanic at Eagle Operating, but Rose said that may have been an advantage because he knew his equipment.

“I’ll keep it open whenever anyone wants to come in,” Eymann said. “Anytime I’m home, I’ll let people in.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!