A Show in the Snow?

Antique Tractor

Content Tools

P.O. Box 82 Armstrong, Illinois 61812

Ever get tired of the summer heat, dust, and wind at the antique shows? Well, try having a show in the winter! For over 10 years now, the members of the I & I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club have been having winter shows in local shopping malls. These exhibits are getting more popular every year, with people traveling from over 100 miles away to see the exhibits as well as to shop.

We originally started with one show in the Village Mall Shopping Center in Danville, Illinois, and after several years expanded to a second show in the Market Place Shopping Center in Champaign, Illinois. Two exhibits allow us more exposure to the public, as well as allowing members from different parts of the area to participate without having to travel as far with their equipment.

These exhibits are also an excellent way to promote summer events, such as the Historic Farm Days show we are involved in at the Middlefork River Forest Preserve near Penfield, Illinois July 14-15, 1990 featuring International Harvester and McCormick-Deering products.

The centerpiece in our Market Place Show this year was the fine half-scale equipment of Russell Helms of Newman, Illinois. His Advance Rumely steam engine, Keck-Gonnerman thresher, and Ann Arbor baler were set up in the Center Court area of the mall making a nice threshing exhibit in a small area. We also had 47 tractors, 10 gas engines, one corn planter and an excellent display of antique wrenches and tools.

We have had excellent response from the management and merchants at both malls, and the management at Market Place told us that the weekend of our exhibit has the second largest crowd of the year (next to Christmas). It may seem like a lot of trouble to go out in the cold and haul the equipment around, but the resulting exposure and publicity far outweigh the difficulties.

In the past we have had all manner of equipment inside the malls, ranging from plows, discs, etc. to full size tractors to Oil Pulls. We have to restrict the size of equipment in one mall due to the width of the entrance doors, but the other has entrance doors large enough to admit even a large combine. The exhibit is enhanced by playing videotapes of the equipment on display operating at the show the previous summer, which always attracts a lot of attention, and helps the non-farm visitors to better understand what the various machines do.

These exhibits also give those members of the family less interested in 'old iron' something to do when attending. Our exhibits usually start by moving in after closing time on Tuesday night, and end by moving out after closing time on Sunday evening. This gives a fairly long time on display and always good 'weather' conditions inside. Special attention should be given to avoiding fuel leaks, and protecting the floor surface from oil, coolant, and grease leaks, and suitable protection to avoid damage to the floors from tires or steel wheels. We have had a number of steel wheeled tractors and implements inside over the years, and have had no problems when taking adequate precautions.

So if your group is looking for something to help keep up interest in the winter months, it may be as close as the nearest shopping center.