Take Me Out to the Show Grounds

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by AdobeStock/frimufilms

It all started with a handful of passionate individuals — this seems to be the background story for a lot of gas engine gatherings and organizations across the country. People with a common goal to preserve the past for future generations and a shared interest in collecting and restoring.

A few enthusiasts will meet, some “could we, should we” conversations will be exchanged, and an association is formed. With the help of many volunteers, a show is born. Every year, the association plans and makes improvements, word spreads, and just like any properly fed brain child, the event grows larger and more successful.

This time of year, most gas engine events are hibernating for the winter, and you’re probably missing the sights, sounds, and smells that come with these gatherings. If you haven’t had the chance to visit one at all, let me paint you a picture with words and entice you to join the fun come warmer weather.

The last event I attended in 2022 was right in my backyard, a delightful find that saved me a hotel stay and many miles on my daily driver. Located in Meriden, Kansas, the 44th Fall Festival and Swap Meet was the quintessential celebration of historical and country traditions. Rows of antique tractors, restored farm equipment, and classic vehicles greeted attendees as they followed paths to working displays including a livery barn, log cabin, sorghum shack, flour mill, cider press, blacksmith shop, general store, sawmill, and print shop.

Finding a treat wasn’t difficult, I could just ask other attendees walking past with sweet-scented kettle corn and bottles of fresh-pressed cider, and they were eager to point me in the right direction. When I was craving something more substantial, the Chuckwagon had what I needed including burgers, an assortment of pies, and my favorite outdoor snack, large dill pickles.

Children paraded past with brightly colored ropes they’d had a hand in twisting and creating in the old hay barn. All sizes and shapes of leashed dogs enjoyed the variety of smells along the way. Crafts of every conceivable variety were stacked in bright displays with creators promoting their wares. Tools, collectibles, and antiques were scattered along many swap tables, ripe for the pickin’. If a person came looking for something old and rare, chances are they left contented.

Friends and families rolled by on all manner of UTVs, golf carts, and tractors (one pulling a trailer fitted with lawn chairs), waving at walkers as they passed. The weather was picturesque, a perfect fall day with all the crisp outdoor scents that come with it. It was just a tad too warm to be attending in overalls.

There were static displays of gas engines as well as many brought in just for the event, the largest delivering 22hp. A blacksmithing line-shaft shop put a 12hp engine to work with the potential to run 12 power tools. Watching all the belts move was mesmerizing, everything installed mindfully to utilize power in an efficient way. More on this in a future issue …

Curious for more details? Well, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself in 2023.

Until next issue,

Christine Stoner


Gas Engine Magazine
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Preserving the History of Internal Combustion Engines