The Western Montana Fair P.O. Box 2310 Missoula, Montana 59806
A few weeks before the 1990 Western Montana Fair, I began thinking of having watched some old engines on display at other fairs and wondered why we didn't have them at ours. The more I thought of these engines and the interest they received, the more I decided folks would be interested and it might be fun to have a display.
I began to contact people whom I knew had some interest in them, placed a small ad in a weekly paper and finally received the name: Ted Mahoney. Ted is a gentleman who lives some miles south of our community who, it turned out, not only had an interest in the engines but has quite a collection of them himself. I visited Ted and told him what I would like to do, and he thought that he could possibly get a few other fellows from the area interested in coming into the Fair and displaying their engines. We were not very fancy or formal about the thing, but I told him we could probably get those exhibitors admissions and a place to park, and if they wanted ribbons or anything we might be able to do that, although Ted did not feel it was necessary. I went home thinking that in a few weeks we might have half a dozen engines-put the matter out of my head and made a note to call Ted back before the Fair.
It was about 10:00 a.m. on the following Monday when my phone rang and a gentleman said he was the Ted Mahoney whom I had met on the previous Thursday, and as far as he could see he said he had approximately 20 guys wanting to come to the Fair and show their engines! Could we handle them ? Well I figured 20 guys/20 engines would work just swell. I told him I figured we could do this. In my lack of experience in this matter, I did not realize that all cast iron wheel collectors have an engine which they like to proudly show off. I also did not realize they each had two or three others which they wanted to show-more or less their second string of engines.
It was opening day of the Fair, when 45 engines showed up, that I realized we were going to have a little larger event than I anticipated. As it turned out, things went extremely smooth. The guys had a good time. At one time they had all 45 engines running, with approximately 1000 people around asking questions. For Ted's work and effort in putting the show together, he was presented with one of our special Director Ribbons for his hard work. We pay our superintendents a little bit, not very much, in fact it hardly pays their gas, but Ted signed his check back to the Fair office because he said we needed to buy buttons for the guys next year. He donated his stipend for their venture. This year we will have the buttons, also an anticipated 120 or more engines! Certainly the interest and the fun warrants the increase in the arrangements for putting this show together. Indeed we are thinking this could well be the biggest show of this kind in the state.
When I realized that the engine enthusiasts all had more than one engine, it seemed kind of odd to me as I do not collect anything. Then I got to remembering that I have an old Wade drag saw up at my cabin that I had bought 10 or 15 years ago which has just been sitting around. I also remembered I had a Maytag sitting out in my garage. I got it when someone gave it to me, as I had an old Maytag washer in my yard. Then by golly, I remembered I had bought a Rawleigh-Schryer. By gosh, I just realized I have three of them, and I thought these guys were a little on the radical side on collecting these things!
Well, to make a long story short, I became more interested in them. The Rawleigh has been torn apart and I just about have it rebuilt. In the meantime, I got a New Way which is all torn apart but about ready to be put back together; I kinda enjoy it! (At least these two engines.) I hope the drag saw will be here on display at the Fair this summer with the other 120 engines. If I can find another one, I might even pick that up. Anyway, this is a new display in this part of the state, but there seems to be a lot of interest in it and a lot of folks look forward to seeing it and apparently want to enter.
This year we are holding an 'Engine Cook Off' at the Missoula County Fairgrounds August 21 though August 25. We welcome anyone who wants to come. Bring an engine or two or three or whatever you can. Our accommodations are limited, but we are looking forward to a fun show and one that will be enjoyable to the public and the exhibitors. Of course there are a lot of other things to do at the Fairgrounds for the wife or children not quite interested in just watching iron wheels. Contact Ted Mahoney at 406-642-3776, or Sam Yewusiak at 406-721-3247 if you will be coming, so that they can determine space requirements, passes, etc.
I guess I most of all want to thank the guys who participated in our first show last year, and in particular Ted Mahoney. It was a great addition to our Fair, and we are looking forward to holding it again and again.
As Ted says, 'Keep those flywheels turning,' hope to see you at one of the shows.