Miniature Farm Replica and Snow Village Are Two of Tennessee’s Small Wonders
Many people say that the best things come in small packages. In this case, they’re absolutely right.
Across the Volunteer State, hobbyists are turning agriculture-inspired models and small-town scenes into something big, using miniature figurines and structures to create large displays that attract onlookers from far and wide.
Long Farms and Counce Farms
When Chase Long was a young boy, he developed a love for farm toys – small tractors, barns, trucks and more – and he began creating farm scenes with his childhood best friend, Colby Counce.
The pair, both of whom were raised on family farms in Lawrenceburg, eventually grew out of playing with the toys, but they continued building farm displays. After all, Long says, they were having a great time, and they found ways to constantly enhance and grow their creations.
“Building these scenes turned into a fun hobby,” Long says. “We loved replicating scenes we saw on the real farm, and before long, I was building things from scratch. If I wanted something and it didn’t exist or I couldn’t buy it, I’d just make it.”
Long publicly unveiled his first farm display at Lawrenceburg’s annual Crossroads of Dixie Antique Tractor and Engine Show when he was in high school, and to say it was a hit is a huge understatement.
“The display was about 6 feet by 8 feet, and everybody, old and young, loved looking at it,” Long says. “After that, Colby wanted to be more involved and help me put together larger displays, and we’ve been partners in this ever since.”
Today, Long and Counce are real-life farmers in their early 20s and have their own displays – Long Farms and Counce Farms, respectively – that they collaborate on. They’ve brought the displays to several events like the Lawrence County Fair and the West Tennessee Farm Toy Show in Jackson.
In 2016, the pair were invited to display their farms at the National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) in Louisville, Kentucky, attended by more than 300,000 people and considered the largest indoor farm show in America.
Billed as the world’s largest model farm, Long and Counce’s display at the NFMS was 40 feet long and 8 feet wide, and featured approximately 14,000 scaled acres of customized farm equipment, storage facilities, livestock, crops and more. Long says his portion of the display had the capacity to handle a 500-head beef cattle operation as well as 4,000 acres of row crops, while Counce’s side was designed to replicate a large row crop operation.
“We’ve modeled our dream farms, and that’s why we call our display ‘The American Dream,’ ” Long says. “We’ve put in a lot of time and work, and I’m proud of what we’ve built. Even people who have nothing to do with agriculture admire and appreciate our displays. That’s pretty cool.”
The Snow Village at Amber Falls Winery & Cellars
In Hampshire, the family-owned Amber Falls Winery & Cellars invites the public to admire its Snow Village, a labor of love that began when winery co-owner Judy Zaunbrecher started collecting miniature homes about 30 years ago.
“I saw a little house that looked like my home, and I had to have it,” Zaunbrecher says.
Since then, she has amassed just over 120 miniature lighted buildings, such as homes, commercial structures and churches, along with nearly 300 accessory pieces like people, cars and animals. Zaunbrecher and her family use most of her collection to create their popular winter display each year, which is approximately 25 feet wide and 20 feet long.
In addition to the buildings and accessories, the Snow Village includes a customized water feature, a train, mountains made of stone, trees, moss, sand and other natural elements that create a realistic, natural atmosphere.
The village is different each year, and Zaunbrecher says the design process begins in the summertime. She and her family, plus any winery staff members who choose to participate, start building the Snow Village in the fall, and it debuts on the weekend before Thanksgiving at the winery’s holiday open house. Free of charge and open to all, the village remains intact through January.
“Constructing the Snow Village requires a lot of work, and it takes about a month to get it ready,” Zaunbrecher says. “We all put in extra hours to make it happen each year, but it’s more than worth it when we see people admiring and enjoying the village. The greatest gift is making people happy with what we provide; that is priceless, and there’s nothing that can replace it.”
She also appreciates the teamwork that goes into the village’s creation, and says the collaboration with her family and staff is one of the most fun aspects of the endeavor.
“It’s so rewarding to do something as a team and see it turn out so beautifully,” Zaunbrecher says. “Having everyone contribute is so much better than one person doing everything and taking all the credit. It’s a team project, and we truly enjoy the challenge every year.”
See the Small Wonders
To see this year’s Snow Village, visit Amber Falls Winery & Cellars at 794 Ridgetop Road, Hampshire, TN 38461. Find more information at amberfallswinery.com, or call (931) 285-0088.
The model farm will be on display at February’s National Farm Machinery Show (NFMS) in Louisville, Kentucky; August’s Crossroads of Dixie Antique Tractor and Engine Show in Lawrenceburg; and November’s West Tennessee Farm Toy Show in Jackson.