775 N. Homer Road, Midland, Michigan 48640
Even without the cooperation of Mother Nature, the Salt River Engine Show was a huge success. What seemed like a torrential downpour, leaving ankle deep puddles in its wake, was not enough to dampen the exhibitors' or spectators' spirits. All the water merely provided participants with nice dust control.
The engine exhibit had more than doubled, with over 250 engines. The engines effortlessly performed the duties of washing clothes, shelling and grinding corn, and baling miniature bales of hay. An 1896 Otto, owned by Charles and Shirley Keyser, was on display and attracted close observation due to its uncommonness.. The number of tractors on exhibit increased by leaps and bounds while a brake fan stood nearby so owners could check their tractors' strength, then cajole friends into testing their tractors for comparison.
We were fortunate to have Loren and Lola Stein donate some aromatic cedar to cut on the shingle mill. The fragrant shingles went like hotcakes, which made it difficult to keep up with the demand. Two blacksmiths, with their forges ready, were prepared to brand the shingles with the show name and date, transforming the shingle into an ideal souvenir.
An operating sawmill was powered by Gil Schrock's Frick steam engine. A lot of logs passed through its blade to become rough lumber. The popcorn kettle ran all day and was a very popular exhibit. We only wish we could find some way to keep our popcorn poppers cool. That is one hot job standing over a cast iron kettle stirring pounds of popcorn.
Gerald 'Mac' McCullen hitched his horses up to a wagon loaded with hay and gave shuttle rides from the parking area to the exhibition grounds. This added feature delighted many youngsters and their moms and dads too.
The parade on Saturday and Sunday is developing into a great forum for showing off your prized possessions. You can see the pride on the owners' faces as they make their lap around the parade route.
The favorite with the ladies is turning out to be the flea market area. Although we are hoping and anticipating more vendors each year, everyone seems happy with what is available. Nobody appears to leave the area empty-handed, including the menfolk. The Tractor Teeter-Totter Competition, the newest addition to the weekend of activities, was a real hit. Not only was it a lot of fun and quite a challenge, but the audience also thoroughly enjoyed watching the men and rooting their favorites on to victory. We were happy to see that some of the younger set got involved, and a teenage boy took first place. Throughout the years many engine show enthusiasts had the opportunity to become acquainted with a fine man named John Sisson. He hand cast and machined each part of his homemade models. They always drew a lot of attention. John passed away soon after the Salt River Show, but he left us with an enriching memory of his time there. On Saturday evening, John seemed to have mysteriously disappeared, leaving his boots behind. His wife, Marion, anxiously searched for him. Meanwhile, John was several rows away tapping his bare toes and clapping his hands to the sound of live bluegrass music. The only danger John was in was catching 'bluegrass fever.'
This year, the 3rd Annual Event will be on June 9 and 10, and if last year's show was any indication, we are looking forward to a large crowd. See you there!