Birth of a club PART 2: A SUCCESS STORY


Titan tractor

Harvey Sharrow of Charlotte, Vermont, leads the tractor parade on his Titan tractor.

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Box 560 Station St., Altona, New York 12910.

Last year about this time we wrote an article telling how our club, the Champlain Valley Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Association, Inc. was formed around a kitchen table in upstate New York. To refresh the memories of those who read our story last year or to the reader who is learning about us for the first time, let me go back to our beginning.

For years now there was a group who used to travel to gas engine shows together. One night in February of 1991, the Boulrices (Vernon and Marie) and the Sartwells (Merril & Scott) got together and started the wheels of progress in motion. Marie wrote an article for the area newspapers, radio stations and TV station stating the formation of an 'Antique Gas Engine and Tractor Association in upstate New York.' Scott took pictures to accompany the article so people would know what a gas engine looks like, because believe it or not, there are many people who have never seen one. We have a Hometown Cable TV channel which does articles of local interest. Tim Lincourt was able to get us a spot on which he appeared with the Sartwells. We were off and running. We had hopes of using the fairgrounds in our county, but their fees were beyond our reach. Two of our new members, Don Deso and Earl Brant, were from Essex County and they said they would approach the people at their fairgrounds. Great news was brought back to the club. The people at the Essex County Fairgrounds at Westport, New York, were eager to help us get our club started, thus we were able to organize. The fairgrounds offer us a public telephone, flush toilets, hot showers and a concession stand. Grocery stores, hotels and restaurants are less than half mile from the fairgrounds. Exhibitors camp free with their exhibits, but campsites with 3-way hook-ups are available to spectators at a nightly rate.

The weather last year was almost perfect. The overcast sky on Saturday, I felt, kept attendance lower than we had hoped. In all gate attendance increased 53% over the previous year.

We picked up 23 new club members at the show increasing our current membership to 75. Last year at this time we had 60 members, but many of those were people without engines who joined just to help us get organized. For their support we will always be grateful.

I am now going to list a number of various exhibits we had. In parenthesis next to some items, I will list the number of each we had at our first year's show so you can see how much we grew in that area: exhibitors 79 (34), gas engines 83 (42), B & S/Maytag size engines 10 (26), model engines 3 (0), large tractors 25 (6), garden size tractors 7 (3), antique cars 6(6), antique trucks 2 (0), 1920 snowmobile, bulldozer. Then we had displays of antique milling machine, milk can lift, water pumps, drill press, hammer mill, hog oilers, milk bottles, tools, toys, water sprinklers, lid lifters for stoves, mowers, sparkplugs, drag saw, corn mill & grinder, butter churn, rope maker, squirrel cage blower, grind stone, brass bells, wrenches, air compressor, generator, burr mill, corn shucker, lanterns and tin containers. There may have been other items, but these are the ones that people mentioned when they registered. What a great list for people to have available for viewing!

With growth comes new problems. We have outgrown our area! The fair people have agreed to allow us to move to the infield of the race track. The land is much more level and we have space to arrange things in a more orderly fashion. We also plan to have a 'Kids Korner' this year with games, face painting, balloons, etc. This type of exhibition is new to our area and parents would have liked to stay longer, but the children were bored. If we supply an area for children with things for them to see and do, it helps our visitors as well as our exhibitors. New tractor games are being planned in addition to the ones played last year. Daily tractor parades also entertain spectators.

I wonder how many new friendships we will establish this year? We will be happy to renew the friendships we made last year. The saying that 'A stranger is only a friend I haven't met yet' has been adopted by our engine club as its motto. This year's set-up date is July 9, and show dates of July 10-11, 1993. Come out and let us turn you from a stranger to one of our new friends or let us renew the friendship we may have already established.