ANSONIA — The 26th annual Wooden Toy Contest is slated for Dec. 14 at the Ansonia Lumber Co.
It’s an event where people bring in their own homemade toys, get them judged and then they’re given away to needy children in the area, via distribution from Operation Christmas Cheer, according to Mitch McCabe, overseer of this annual event.
Judging, with The American Woodshop’s Scott Phillips is set for 9:30 a.m., and he bases his criteria on style, originality and quality. His decision will be final.
New this year will be a youth division for those 18 years and younger. Some youth have competed before; however, there was no youth division set up prior to this year.
Grand prize in the adult division will be an engraved Case knife with gift box and a $50 gift certificate, while a Milwaukee 12V drill will be the grand prize for the winning youth.
Additional prizes include $100 gift certificate for second place; a heavy duty Kreg Jig for third prize; and wood clamps for both the fourth prize and fifth prize in the adult division. Additional youth prizes will be a Dremel multi tool for second; an Orbital sander for third; a Kreg Jig for fourth; and wood clamps for fifth. There will be one prize per person.
Entries, McCabe said, can be brought in to the lumber company that day or sometime the week before.
Toys will be displayed until the time of judging, and winners do not have to be present to win.
Entries become the property of Operation Christmas Cheer and cannot be returned.
All contestants receive a donation of hardwood lumber from Frank Miller Hardwood Lumber Outlet in Union City, Ind.
McCabe said employees of Ansonia Lumber Co. are encouraged to enter a donation, but are not eligible to win a prize. He said he even tries to donate one toy a year.
McCabe was working for Flaig Lumber in New Madison when he began the first wooden toy contest, and Scott Phillips has served as judge from the very start, with the exception of one year when his vehicle was involved in a crash on a snowy day en route to Ansonia. But, the show went on with representatives from both area newspapers plus a representative from Operation Christmas Cheer serving as judges.
McCabe, who worked at Flaig’s for 24 years before coming to Ansonia Lumber 17 years ago, said he met Phillips earlier in the year of the first contest.
“I was with one of the gentlemen we bought lumber from who graduated with Scott who said I ought to meet him. I took my oldest son, Sam, to watch his show in his one-car garage. That’s was in about Scott’s second year. Later on, when I got the idea for a toy contest, I thought, ‘If Scott would be a judge that would be a draw for the event.’”
Phillips obliged and always tells the crowd in Ansonia each year that this is the only contest he will judge.
“He’s an entertainer,” said McCabe, who noted that he and Phillips graduated in 1973 from different high schools; Phillips in Piqua and McCabe in Greenville.
There was never a time they had to cancel or reschedule because of the weather.
The contest, McCabe said, started out with the toys being given to Toys For Tots, then Toys for Tykes and maybe one other in between, but now Operation Christmas Cheer separates them according to the appropriate age groups when giving them out.
McCabe, who has been working with wood for a while said, when he was 9 to 10, he made a wooden fence for his horse collection.
“One guy who taught me an awful lot was Gene Brubaker, who worked with me at Flaig Lumber,” he said. “I just picked things up on my own. I didn’t have any tools; I just made small things.”
McCabe and Phillips are members of the Western Ohio Woodworkers Club out of Dayton.
McCabe invites the public to the toy contest, and noted that refreshments are usually served.