‘It’s a gas!’ collectibles show really is a gas automotive stltoday.com gas water heater reviews 2013

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Mark your calendars for the 21st annual It’s A Gas! petroleum and nostalgic collectibles show, which is just a week-and-a-half away. Vendors from coast-to-coast will be pulling in Jan. 18 at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Columbia, Mo., to set up their booths for this indoor swap meet of all things related to the gasoline and service station business from early twentieth century to modern times.

I have been a regular at this event since as long as I can remember, at times as a vendor, but mostly as a buyer and browser. The hobby is more popular than most people would expect and there is at least one monthly publication dedicated to what is known among followers as petroliana. It’s called "Check The Oil" and you can find out more about this publication at checktheoilmagazine.com.

I always find something I just have to buy when I go on my annual pilgrimage to Columbia for this show. One of my favorites is the Phillips 66 gas price poster shown in this story. You’ll remember this picture the next time you pull in to fill up your tank at a price more than ten times the amount advertised on this poster. Kind of brings a tear to your eye doesn’t it?

In years past, I have purchased everything from large porcelain signs to ballpoint pens, uniforms, antique water and oil cans, tire displays, neon signs and, well, you name it. The list goes on and on. I once even found a three-gallon, round oil can with the name Kunz Oil Company on it. I really wanted to bring that one back, but unfortunately the $300 price tag was just out of my budget.

One perennial favorite category is vintage gas pumps. You’ll find them in conditions varying from rusted out fixer-uppers ready to restore all the way up to pristine restorations that look better than when they were new. Glass globes, which adorned the tops of the old pumps from the forties and fifties are also popular and often fetch surprising prices.

Whatever your interest, if it pertains to the petroleum industry, and related nostalgic businesses like food and lodging, you’re likely to find it at It’s A Gas! And even if you’re not a collector, it’s worth the trip to Columbia for the day or weekend, just to stir up memories of the days when a uniformed attendant greeted you at the pump island, asking if you wanted regular or ethyl (look it up on Wikipedia Gen-Xers) and proceed to check the oil plus the tires, radiator, battery and clean your windshield to boot. Ah, those were the days.

If you are really interested in getting a bargain on a petroleum collectible, I would suggest you go on Friday and pay the $20 early bird fee to get in the show before everything gets picked over. That said, if you just want to visit the show for the memories and nostalgia, you still need to be there by opening of the doors on Jan. 19, as it is with most swap meets and flea markets, this one is an early event. Many vendors will begin packing up their wares by noon Saturday.

There are lots of bars and night spots with entertainment and cold beer to enjoy before turning in for the evening. And if you want to enjoy a memorable dinner Friday night or Saturday after It’s A Gas!, you can’t beat The Pasta Factory, Columbia’s original Italian restaurant since 1976. You’ll find the same impressive service and impeccable menu at their new location at 3103 West Broadway. You can call hosts Jennifer and Jason Dubinski at 573-449-3948 for more details or visit their website at www.thepastafactory.net. And again, please tell them you heard about it here.