EVANS CITY, Pa. — With a twinkle in his eye and a talented set of hands, Charlie Vogel is building a farm scene he wishes everyone could see.
Vogel bought a trailer that contains the scale farm diorama display after seeing a notice from Steve Hermann, who wanting to sell the trailer that was set up to display farm scenes and teach people about agriculture.
Hermann, of Eden Prairie, Minn., lived on a farm when he was young and realized the world was getting too far from the farm and many people didn’t understand agriculture, which is why he built the trailer.
The Vogels had the same thought — some youngsters are three and four generations removed from the farm and don’t understand how producers operate their farms.
That was four years ago, now Charlie Vogel and his parents, Al and Donna Vogel, of Vogel Valley Farms, consider it an honor to take the 12-by-24 cargo trailer diorama to various shows, fairs and schools to carry on and teach people about agriculture.
Most of the farm scenes have changed from Hermann’s vision. Over the past few years, Vogel has been busy constructing new buildings, changing the scenes, adding details such as stacks on semi-trucks and intricate additions to the cow and hog farm views.
The display is 1:64 scale and features a farm from the 1960s and a view from the 2000 era, showing modern agriculture. Some of the items started out as a block of wood until Vogel transformed them into what he has witnessed on real farms.
Vogel said each time he sets it up, he shows different scenes.
Al Vogel said the biggest joy of the trailer is being able to show youth not raised on a farm about life on the farm.
“A 10-year boy come in and didn’t know where milk came from,” he said.
Using the toy display, Vogel explained the milking parlor scene and how someone milks the cattle and the entire process.
“We have to show people what happens and how it happens, so they understand,” Al Vogel said. “It would be a lot easier just to put up a Wal-Mart sign and give them a grocery cart to explain where it comes from. That’s where some people think it comes from and it’s our job to show them it starts on the farm.”
Meanwhile, Charlie continues to work to ensure the diorama is as realistic as possible. He has rebuilt 90 percent of the display since purchasing it and is never done with it.
“It’s an ongoing process. Everything is customized,” said Charlie.
Details such as groundhog holes in the roadways, dead skunks on the road, mirrors on trucks, movable parts on implements, bales of hay tied with string and even netting on roundbales, a treehouse in a tree and flowers in the garden.
The trailer takes three hours to set up because of the different scenes available, including combines harvesting grain and even attractions such as the Big Knob Grange Fair and businesses such as Witmer’s Feed & Grain and Witmer’s Farm Equipment.
Charlie has more than 10,000 tractors, trucks and other parts that are in the 1:64 scale. He has another 1,000 trucks such as the semi-trucks in the 1:16 scale.
He said his favorite part of the display is the tractor dealership that resembles Witmer’s Farm Equipment, because he likes to see the different tractors and implements lined up.
Al said the family enjoys hearing feedback from both young and old as they walk through the trailer. It gives them ideas on what may need changed, or what kind of scene they may need to add in order for the display to accomplish its goal.
“To hear the comments and to see their expressions is just amazing,” said Al.
The trailer tours throughout the year including displaying at the Butler Farm Show, Portersville Steam Show, Butler County Farm Tour, Lawrence County Fair, Hancock County Fair in W.Va., Center Township School in Butler County, the Big Knob Antique tractor show, Stoneboro Fair and Witmer’s Field Day.
The family said events are always being added to the list and are hopeful that they can continue to teach all generations about farming.