Ingalls 64958 M-43 Highway Bangor, Michigan 49013
That was the general comment heard by weary workers who rubbed sore feet and massaged tired muscles, as the last exhibitor drove out of the new show grounds of the Van Buren Flywheelers Antique Engine and Tractor Club, after their 12th annual show held last September in South Haven, Michigan. V. B. F. had purchased the parcel of land in late April and dedicated members had spent many long hours all summer, preparing for the very first show there.
It was a big decision to make this purchase, and many members didn't think we would be able to be ready for a show by September but really, there wasn't much of a choice. The alternative was to have no show. The land was undeveloped, but had several things going for it level, sandy soil, a fair amount of trees, and an unzoned town ship! A Building and Grounds Committee was quickly formed and a plan was created. Of course, everyone had their own ideas of what was needed the most, but the committee worked together to develop a priority list.
First on the agenda was the planting of pine and autumn olive trees that had been donated by a local nursery. The local Boy Scout troop from Bangor was contacted for this job, and on a bright and beautiful weekend in April, the scouts, with the help of a tractor and tree planter (and parents of course!) planted a total of 3,400 trees in designated rows in what were to be the parking lot and flea market areas. Soon afterwards, a portion of the gravel drive way was put in with the help of local contractors.
Members, meanwhile, had been working hard to secure donations from local businesses and a membership drive had been started offering 10, 15 or Lifetime V. B. F. memberships with the monies from this being put in the Building and Grounds Fund. Then in May, a consignment auction was held which also raised money for the development of the grounds. Response from area residents was overwhelming. Not only had many brought items to be sold for consignment, many items were donated entirely to the club.
As if this wasn't keeping everyone busy enough, crews were back on the land making roadways and what would soon be parking areas for our exhibitors. Many of the nearby residents would often stop by wondering what was being built. And even after being told, most had to have explained what an antique engine and tractor show was!
The ladies of the club held a garage sale, and with the money earned from that, began planting flower gardens. They bought gallons of paint to paint a donated ticket booth, old flywheels for the gardens, donated trash barrels and donated picnic tables. The men were soon joking that nothing was safe from the women's paint brushes!
Finally, there was enough money to start on an office building. It was decided that we would have an official ground breaking ceremony over the July 4th weekend and with a good portion of workers already there, we could start on the office. The Lady Flywheelers hurriedly planned the occasion, purchasing refreshments, planning a schedule of events. They even painted a donated plow the traditional gold in order to use it to break the ground.
When the day finally came, the weather cooperated beautifully and President Fred Krizan gave a welcome speech that included the history of the club. After all of the officers and directors posed for pictures, Director Larry Weniger started his old red steel-wheeled International tractor, hooked on the gold plow and cut the first furrow in the weed-covered, sandy soil as everyone clapped and cheered! Then the work began.
Almost every weekend of the entire summer would find Flywheelers camping at the land as they worked to install water lines, electrical service, finish the office building, lay out roadways and parking areas. A loading ramp was built, a water tank for the steamers installed on cement that was poured; brush was clipped and burned; weeds were mowed and before we knew it was SHOW TIME!
Everyone crossed their fingers and hoped that the move would not hurt the show too badly. No one was quite sure what the response would be, but we were soon to find out! The campers began to roll in, proudly pulling display after display. Despite the rain on Thursday, it looked like we would have a fairly good show, as a good portion of the grounds filled up. Then came Friday. Motor homes after pickup trucks after RVs pulled in long after darkness. Workers began to feel the pressure as Saturday came, and they raced around to park vehicles for people who were still coming in. We were beginning to run out of room! Weary club officers hurriedly met and discussed where to park exhibitors should such a thing actually happen. Not only did we have to worry about all of the exhibitors, but the gate attendance on Saturday morning suddenly boomed, requiring supervised traffic control from local authorities as traffic backed up the three miles to the Interstate. Oh, what a show!
Things finally slowed down and we had quite a first show. Everything seemed to go fairly smoothly, which shows you what good planning will do. Compliment after compliment was received about the land which made all those long, hard, sweaty weekends of work worthwhile. Many of us thought that now that the show was over, we could rest easy until at least spring, when we would have to clear more land, install more water lines, and make more roads, but wouldn't a know it now we are planning another auction! Never thought I'd say that!
Editor's Note: As we go to press, we just received word that Van Buren Fly-wheelers has changed its name to Michigan Flywheelers.