Miniature village, a holiday treasure


Although there has been some growth, the Zandbergen late 1800’s-early 1900’s village, located just east of Brinston, remains a constant source of holiday pleasure to all those who visit the home of Bill and Coby Zandbergen.

In 2006, The Leader featured the wonderful miniature village assembled by Coby, and now five years later, a return finds the village has grown by “one full sub-division”, or, in reality, a third sheet of plywood.

Coby first began to develop her village in the early 1980’s. It began with the purchase of a miniature church, and it started out on her buffet.

By 2006, it covered two full sheets of plywood or about 60 square feet. And it hasn’t stopped growing, as Coby continues the hunt for unique and unusual pieces.

“I’m missing one item and that is the old fire house with the horse drawn water wagon,” says Coby explaining that part of the pleasure she has received in developing her village has been the “thrill of the hunt.”

The hunt has had her purchasing pieces everywhere from yard sales to retail stores to large department stores. She has even managed to persuade salespeople to sell an item or two she has discovered in a display.

“I’m not a shopper, that’s the funny part. But I’m always looking. The toy shoppe, I found at a yard sale. It is so unique,” she says as she points to the couple she has smooching behind a building. “Over behind the trees there, another fellow is proposing to his lady.”

Her hobby now includes everything from the toy shoppe, to the post office, the cheese factory, bakery and of course a town hall and train station. “I have five churches now. They are all different. Some are fancy and some are plain.”

All of her buildings and lampposts light up and that is where Bill comes in.

Coby estimates that if she sticks with it, “it takes me a good week to get it all set up. Once the base is in place, the mountain to the back of the display is added. I work from the back to the front. I set the houses in place and then Bill wires it all.”

“Then I have my famous kitchen tongs. When you have to place something, while balancing on one leg, they come in handy.”

The village and surrounding countryside remains in the Zandbergen’s front porch area until March break, when it is all packed up and put away.

Coby says she has no idea the population of her village. A quick count locates 53 people just in the town square and another 23 children playing in the school yard. The whole layout easily includes several hundred people all busy with their daily lives…skiing, chopping wood, cutting ice from the pond…ice skating…cutting down trees…

For years now the display has been a delight for the Zandbergen family and visitors to their home. “We have 10 grandchildren, all of whom enjoy it. I have one granddaughter who thinks she has to re-arrange everything,” says Coby with a chuckle. “The kids love it in here.”

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