On a sunny Sunday afternoon in October, 1977, a small group of steam enthusiasts got together to watch Marvin Lucky's steam engine in operation, and to saw wood with an old buzz saw. A log saw was present to slew those logs too large to lift to the buzz saw. It was a fun day and attracted several other interested onlookers. This was followed by a group of gas engine buffs setting up a display of antique machines at the Bogue, Kansas, Cheese-O-Rama in April of 1978. The old engines and machines were a great addition to the show and drew many favorable comments.
A meeting held by the Stockton, Kansas Chamber of Commerce to start a feasibility study to sponsor an antique show in Stockton, attracted about a dozen uninvited guests. While the Chamber held its meeting behind closed doors, these people held a meeting in the street and talked over their interests in old shop and farm machines.
This meeting and much insistent talking by 'Gas Engine' Joe Roy, Stockton, brought about a meeting at his machine shop July 20, 1978. This was the first meeting of record of the Solomon Valley Antique Engine and Machinery Association. The meeting resulted in 30 members. Twenty-two of these members gained Charter Member status by advancing $30 each to buy insurance and buy admission buttons for a show to be held September 30, and October 1, 1978 at the Rooks County Fairgrounds.
The Rooks County Historical Society and the Stockton Chapter of the Lions Club were asked to help with this show.
None of the members have a large number of items to display, and some members haven't any displays. Thus we rely heavily on exhibitors coming from elsewhere. For this reason we have had a great variety of items displayed by a fine group of showmen. Visiting with these people is always a pleasure because it brings the old days alive (so we can better appreciate today) and presents customs unique to the areas from which they come.
We now have 50 members, but 16 families from the Club do the majority of the physical labor. For this reason we rely on other organizations and individuals of the community to help with the show.
We believe the greater the participation of different organizations of the community and those of surrounding communities, we can furnish a glimpse into the past of agriculture, preserve some of the old machines from our past and provide some entertainment and fun while we are doing it.
On September 26, 27, 1981 (our 4th annual show) we came very close to getting a complete show together, with a little of something for everyone.
The Show attracted a record 128 exhibitors and 338 exhibits were displayed. Due to the diversity of the exhibits, we create a meeting of some of the finest exhibitors in this area.
Live demonstrations and antique crafts were a big attraction. Well over 2,000 people came to view the largest parade ever put on by the Association. A parade of entries in front of the grandstand Saturday and Sunday afternoons was very well attended.
Outdoor exhibits included a variety of antique automobiles, a large display of antique engines and machinery, as well as antique implements. A 1922 Stutz fire engine from Seneca, Kansas was also displayed.
Demonstrations included a molasses demonstration, saw mill, blacksmithing, steam powered threshing, baling, corn shelling and a post rock drill.
An antique auction was held in conjunction with the show. An excellent swap meet and commercial display was sponsored by the Stockton Lions Club.
A hobby and craft show is also held in conjunction with the show, but due to lack of interest and help, it has not proved as successful as we would like.
A free barbeque was given Saturday night for the exhibitors and members. A program of old time music followed, provided by local talent.
The fact is that we are so fortunate to have so many exhibitors from different communities; the different customs of the people are brought to our show.
Each year we have received several invitations to show at community celebrations, which we are not always able to accept, but we do appreciate the invitation, and do our best to attend as many as possible.
The 1981 show was a great pleasure to all the members and we are looking forward to the last weekend in September, 1982.
Making molasses. Marvin Lucky, standing, owner of the mill; Bill Nichol, skims the pan.
Photo courtesy of Plainville Times.