MID-MICHIGAN

By Staff
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Overview of the John Deere display area and show tent at Mid-Minchigan Old Gas Tractor Show in Oakley, Michigan.
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Standing, Bill Koski, president; Charlie Sutter, trustee; Bill Horton, treasurer; Chad Sigafoose, vice president; and Larry Haak, trustee. Kneeling, Frank Young, secretary, and Brad Lab, trustee.
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Ed Ellis at the show getting the Oliver 70 up for the steel wheel tractor pull.
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Jerry Gengler and John Stewart at the crosscut saw contest.

Sec. Bill Koski, Pres. P.O. Box 104 Oakley, Michigan 48649

The year was 1974, the setting was the fertile heartland of
Michigan known as the Saginaw Valley, and the first chapter of the
story was written by eight local farmers who had an affinity for
the machines and methods of the early years of mechanized
agriculture. The first official gathering was not much more than a
threshing bee on the farm of one of the founding members with
casual passersby stopping in to visit and reminisce. A good meal
was shared, and at the end of the day of hard work and fun the men
involved realized that not only had they enjoyed themselves, but
their efforts were also appreciated by those neighbors and friends
who had noticed the nostalgic scene from the road and joined in the
fun themselves. These eight men, who all had roots in the era of
the binder and threshing machine, were well aware that this scene
was rapidly disappearing from the American landscape, and that
generations to come would never know the excitement they had known
as youngsters when the crew moved from farm to farm to harvest the
season’s bounty. The children of the future would never feel
the thrill of seeing that gigantic Huber tractor pulling the
separator up their own driveway when it was their turn to thresh.
They would miss the sweet smell of the grain as they pitched
bundles into the churning maw of the Belle City thresher, oblivious
to the tired muscles, the hot sun and the chaff sticking to the
sweat on their forearms. All this passed through the minds of these
gentlemen as they reflected back on their day’s work, and then
the idea was born! Why not make this an annual affair so that
succeeding generations could relive the memories just as they had
done that day?

And so it was agreed, next year in August, they would once again
drag out the old retired tractors and machinery and put on a show,
not just for themselves but for the public as well. With that
agreement history was made; the birth of the Mid-Michigan Old Gas
Tractor Show had taken place. They formed a club under that name
and began planning for the next year.

Now that they had a goal, the various members set about
gathering up long-since discarded equipment and tools to expand
their operation. Auction sales were attended and fence rows and
junk-yards were scoured for their hidden treasures. They began to
realize how much fun it was to find and restore the rusting hunks
of iron that had once been some farmer’s pride and joy. Most
would seek out the particular brands that they had been associated
with in their youth, or perhaps one that someone else had that was
the object of their envy years ago. Their efforts proved to be
contagious as many others in the community found themselves
inspired to roll that old John Deere out from behind the corncrib
and see if they couldn’t get that flywheel to budge once again,
with a little oil and a lot of patience. The fever had started to
spread!

The rest, as they say, is history. When August rolled around and
the time was right, they gathered again, and the public reaction
proved their theory to be correct. There was a great appetite for
the spectacle they had presented. Many others who had quietly
harbored a love for the old tractors and machines they left behind
when they left the farm or advanced with the progress that has
taken place, joined the fledgling organization and added their time
and talents to the enterprise.

As the years passed by the size of the Club grew by leaps and
bounds and soon they realized that they had outgrown that small
field where it all started, and the board sought and acquired a 20
acre parcel to be used as their show grounds in order to
accommodate the throngs of spectators and exhibitors that were now
attracted each year. That 20 acres was soon expanded to 40 and even
then additional land was leased for spectator parking. This was
truly an event driven by demand from their target customer, the
American family.

In the 22 years that have passed since, the Mid-Michigan Old Gas
Tractor Show has become one of the largest expositions of its kind
in the north-eastern part of the country. With a broad base of
activities everyone can find entertainment to suit their tastes,
starting with the delicious pancake breakfast each morning, a
parade that often takes two hours to pass, tractor pulls of many
categories, sawmill and complete wood finishing area, threshing,
plowing, crosscut saw contest, live music and other attractions too
numerous to mention. We typically have over 750 registered
exhibitors who form the building blocks of the show by bringing
their machinery to display and demonstrate. One of the secrets of
our continuing success at MMOGTA is our emphasis on dynamic,
working displays as opposed to static, museum type exhibitions. We
not only want you to bring your machinery, we encourage you to use
it in some of our many activities. We feel that spectators come
away with a much greater understanding of our agricultural heritage
when they witness our hardware performing the tasks for which it
was originally intended. This also provides a much more satisfying
experience for the many collectors who bring their prized displays
to spacious show grounds. We also include expansive areas relating
to other interests including arts and crafts, flea markets,
quilting, spinning, bingo, petting zoo and children’s play
area.

The other ingredient in this recipe for success is the more than
200 families making up one of the hardest working memberships found
anywhere. The wide ranging talents and trades of our group have
enabled us to develop our property into the park-like facility it
is today. Combined with the ever-expanding complement of on-site
stationary engines and machines we’ve acquired, we think we can
present you with one of the most enjoyable experiences of this type
you’ll find anywhere.

Also we are proud to announce that we will be the host of the
1998 annual show of the IHC Collectors Club of Michigan, Chapter
11. And, we have submitted our presentation and bid for the
National Red Power Roundup Show in 1998. With a lot of hard work
this will be the show of the decade for us. Hope to see you
there.

Our sincere hope is that you’ll have opportunity to join us
August 16-18, 1996 in Oakley, Michigan, as we celebrate our 22nd
year of FUN!!

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