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Well, here we are, right in the middle of the show season and what better time to start thinking about next year's shows?! Many people who are active in their local club will also get involved with organising their club shows, and one member of our internet mailing list who is in this position asked for some input to help make his show better than ever next year.

What makes an engine show great'??

This is in order to help some of the smaller shows grow and the others to improve upon our ideas. So tell us what do you like and dislike about the shows you attendgive us your ideas!!!!!!!

I know from experience that the show at Waucanda, Illinois, is a VERY nice show.

What I think makes it so nice is that people are at their displays most of the day explaining to the city slickers (who tend to wear high heels in the grass) how people USED to do things. It is not a large show, and there is no swap area, but it is a very nice show for local people to attend to learn about the history of farming.

So, my choice would be where people had a demo going on and were explaining to the people how things work.

I'll try to tell you what I like in a show.

Keep in mind I am old and fat and too stubborn to apply for a handicapped permit, so places like Portland leave me walking when otherwise I would have a small butt buggy.

My favourite show is Coolspring, Pennsylvania. Here is why:

Parking: I park my pickup and camper right where I set up my engines. So does most everyone else. That way, my bed, toilet, food, etc. are handy without lots of walking. There are all sizes of camping rigs, from tents to big Eagle buses. It works out just fine.

Fresh water: for drinking/cooking/refilling the camper tank.

Food: something good, like barbecue.

Shade: is nice, but most people carry their own.

Vendor focus: on the hobby. Taiwan trinkets have little place at an engine show.

Reasonable membership fee: to be there, same for vendor fee. Without the exhibitors and vendors, there would be no reason for the public to come.

Visitor Parking: should be away from the exhibit/camping area. Transport visitors in on wagons or buses. You will get better crowd control and reduce the opportunity for visitors to steal from exhibits or vendors.

Identifiable Club Members: Have plenty of club members wearing easily identifiable hats or badges to help exhibitors/vendors who need it.

A farmers' market section of vendors: Campers will buy sweet corn, fruits and vegetables.

Activities: I like an opening ceremony, such as the pledge of allegiance to the flag. A prayer is okay with me, too, and many like it. Also, I like a consignment auction, preferably early Saturday afternoon. The auction can charge a fee for the club.

If tractors are involved, or even garden tractors, a parade is fun and can engage lots of people for a couple of hours. I don't see any point in a tractor pull for antique equipment. I think we are lucky to get them running at all, let alone put them under stress.

Most important for the displayer is how the sponsors of the event show their appreciation. At a recent show we attended, an official from the sponsoring club took the time to speak with participants individually, thanking them for coming. A delicious dinner was provided for all who displayed, and another official handed out commemorative coffee cups.

Because of the way that the sponsors made us feel welcome, we'll be more likely to attend future shows.

Secondly, a good show will be promoted so that it attracts plenty of tourists and the layout such that nobody gets stuck out in the boondocks away from the action. There's nothing that puts a damper on a displayer's enthusiasm as quickly as being stuck out in the back forty with no tourists coming by to appreciate his display.

Lastly, the sponsors should strive for diversity. The display of big engines, small engines, tractors, and working displays should be mixed. Segregating small engines from the big engines from the red tractors from the green tractors creates monotony for all but experts on that particular facet of our hobby. To the expert, a row of six Springfields is infinitely intriguing, each engine having its own idiosyncrasies that must be studied and savoured. To the casual observer, they're a row of six red engines that are all alike and will be bypassed after viewing the first one. If the displays are intermixed, they will hold the attention of the tourist without boring him or dampening his enthusiasm.

Our local club continues to allow displayers to park their cars and trucks with our displays. I admit that it's sometimes handy to do so, but it makes for a lousy show for the public in my opinion.

I agree about having the different makes, models, and sizes scattered throughout the show. I think that variation is much more interesting than a long row of like machines. I do, however, like some degree of order.

While I don't advocate scrunching everything together, some shows are just too spread out. I think that keeping everything in the same zip code is more eye-pleasing and much appreciated by many of the senior citizens who may have some difficulty walking long distances but love to look at the old iron.

Although it's usually not a problem, I think flea market items, crafts, etc., if present should be kept separated from the main engine/tractor display. That opinion isn't always popular but, again, I think it produces a nicer show.

Finally, although I like a slow running engine, I bet we've all been to shows where three-quarters of the displays weren't moving at all. It's, of course, up to the owner, but I think clubs should encourage people to actually run their engines. Belting one up to some demonstration is great, but just the running engine will attract soooo many more onlookers than a stationary stationary engine.

Activities for kids go a long way also for those of us with families. The local show in Dexter has a pedal pull and petting farm set-up, and is located at a great park with playgrounds. Makes it a lot easier.

A place to be a Tractor Guy in motion is always nice also.

Whether to allow or not to allow cars/trucks/motor homes in the display areas is a great controversy among show members. I go to a lot of shows each year, most of which allow the display vehicles in the show area. But some do not.

I am of the opinion that if the show grounds will accommodate people's vehicles then you should let them in. If you permit motor homes, then you should permit other vehicles. When I leave home to go to a show, my truck is loaded with food, coolers, reference books, extra clothes, chairs, tents, rain gear, tools, etc., in addition to my trailer with several thousand pounds of engines. If I need something, my truck is right there. One show enacted the no vehicle rule last year. Some of our club members that display a lot of old tools on tables and the back of their pickup truck were made to unload all their stuff and park a quarter mile away. They will not go back to that show this year. If there is order in the method of parking, I feel it looks all right.

How about holding a slow engine race, have a best display award, or the most creative thing you can do with a hit and miss exhaust?

Some of the best things about the shows we attend around here are:
Lots of shade. Who wants to sit in a big open field at the end of July??? Plant lots of trees!

A big flea market. Give my wife something to do, she can't stand to just sit in a chair and watch an engine run.

Give things for kids to do. A barrel train is an excellent way to occupy a kid, along with crafts and games. Maybe even have a water balloon toss. (Wet 'em down and wear 'em out.)

I went to a show last year that had a logging competition. Sure it wasn't engine-related, but it was neat to watch.

Entertainment is always fun. Our local show has garden tractor and ATV pulls on Saturday afternoon and a Tractor Rodeo in the evening. After this, the show building has a concert with a local band. This gives the people something to do after sundown.

Sunday morning church services are always nice. Many people are not able to be a part of their home church so at least offer a service on the show grounds.

Spot trailers. Nothing worse than pulling into a show grounds with no help to put your trailer in a show area and try to spot it with a motor home. Keep an EXPERIENCED person on hand with a tractor to spot your exhibitors.

Free Gas!! One of the shows we attend has a gas truck on site to fill up exhibitors' gas cans. They also fill LP gas for the big engines. At least this encourages folks to run the engines.

Good food with short lines. Who wants to stand in line for a cold, burnt hamburger??

Working displays are a must. People like to see what this old iron was used for. It's even better if they can help. Have a corn sheller and a bag of corn on hand. Have a Maytag washing machine with some dirty rags. Let a passerby start the machine.

Well, these are just a few of my likes. Maybe the dislikes list will come at the END of show season!

A few contributors did come up with some things to avoid:

Starting way before the published dates.

Excessive fees for exhibitors (admissions, mandatory club membership, camping fees without services).

Not being able to find a spokesman for the area you going to exhibit in.

Excessive food costs.

Loudspeakeritis (Portland is a culprit here).

There is nothing worse than driving three hours to an engine show and actually winding up at a motorhome convention.

While it seems way too early to start thinking about next show season, getting ideas and opinions NOW on how things can be improved at future shows might not be such a bad idea. And if anyone comes up with the perfect solution to exhibitor parking at shows, let us know!