ARTICLE WHICH APPEARED IN THE KIEGHLEY NEWS - 8 MARCH 2007
Carrot connoisseur John Stolarczyk has returned from Holtville, USA, the carrot capital of the world, armed with more artefacts for his museum - the only one in the world devoted to the vegetable.
John, 56, a former Bradford Council administrator, gets more than 200 hits a day on his 125-page online museum.
His luggage on his return from the USA was laden with a carrot miniature ten-pin bowling set, a carrot-shaped bird box, carrot-shaped bubble gum container, carrot-shaped chocolate, carrot bird feeder, carrot candles, windmill, trinket box, towels and a carrot wreath.
The items have now joined the other carrot cornucopia at his home in Clayton Hill Road, Cross Hills, where he already treasures carrotty ornaments ranging from fairy lights to cork screws.
"My biggest problem was getting the wreath through customs," said John, whose favourite colour naturally is orange.
"It was in my back pack and they asked what it was. I told them I was a carrot collector and they eventually believed me."
John, pictured, had been a guest of honour in the Californian town and took his place on a special float in the carrot parade.
With him was America's carrot tattoo lady - Michele Hewitt - who persuaded John to have his own "temporary" tattoo, and Jeff Chiplis, from Cleveland, Ohio, who has a collection of 10,000 carrot bags.
John was invited to judge a carrot cooking competition in which people made sweets, cakes and savoury dishes from the vegetable.
But ironically, it was elsewhere on his 20-day pilgrimage across America - driving and flying - that he picked up most of his carrot paraphernalia.
"I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't much at the festival and apart from Michele and Jeff, I didn't meet any other collectors," he said.
"I think we're a rare breed or perhaps there are a lot of closet carrot collectors.
But he came home with one cheery bit of news.
He was e-mailed by a woman in Wisconsin who is setting up a carrot themed café.
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