By Staff
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The following comes from a recent topic on SmokStak, which can
be found on the Internet at: As
ever, various individuals started, commented on and concluded the
following bulletin board thread.

What does everyone think of the practice of show committees
charging the exhibitors an entrance fee? Does anyone else have a
problem with this? We, as exhibitors, are the entire reason that
the general public comes to the show. The spectators come to see
the engines (for a dedicated engine show, anyway). Yet many events
choose to charge US so that we can become the attraction of the
show. Doesn’t that kind of sound like the New York Yankees
players each having to buy a ticket before every game? When I
ATTEND a show, whether it’s an antique car show, or an engine
show, or any other spectator event, I expect to pay some form of an
admission fee. But when I am an exhibitor, it just seems
disingenuous on the part of the show committee. Am I out of line on
this one? – Tim

The local show around here used to get a lot of engine people
until they started charging entrance and camping fees and moved the
campers into the shaded areas where they used to have the engines.
Now most have left, as a matter of fact there was only one engine
running there last year. Bums a guy out. – Randy

I totally agree with the previous posts. I attended a show about
20 years ago that started charging the exhibitors. It sure made a
lot of exhibitors mad and they also had problems getting exhibitors
to come to their show. I haven’t been back. I think that the
only reason that they continue to draw people is that it is the
first show of the season. They also have a lot of steam. I noticed
they have a half page ad in the April issue of GEM and in bold
letters EXIB1TORS WELCOME. I think they finally got the message.

I agree to a point. There are some shows that charge a fee that
makes me mad. But I don’t mind donating to a club, like Dublin,
N.H., which is put on by the club and the volunteer fire
department. The two greatest type organizations, in my opinion,
engines and volunteer fireman. I do know that some of that money
does go to insurance, like if someone’s five-year-old boy grabs
your exhaust pipe gets burned and goes to the hospital. That’s
why we have insurance. – Justin

I have to agree 100 percent with not charging exhibitors to get
on a show grounds. But in all fairness to some clubs, they have
insurance, which requires that exhibitors be members. So at the
very least be understanding and patient until you get the whole
scoop. Remember the hard working club members who have good
intentions, and feel the same as you, but can’t govern every
last decision made by their officers. I’ve seen a lot of big
shows ruined (at least for the exhibitors) by just a few big shots
with that little bit of power going to their head. On the other
hand there are a certain number of exhibitors who want special
treatment and they can be a pain also. – Ed

This has gone on pretty well! I’m the president of our club
and there is NO WAY we would EVER charge an exhibitor, PERIOD! I
know of shows that operate without insurance thereby saving at
LEAST $900 annually. Our million-dollar policy costs our little
show about $920 now after 9-11. That’s up a little over $200,
which I can understand. It costs a LOT of money to put on a show

G’Day you blokes, I’ve read a few of your messages, some
mentioned insurance. We have a system out here in Australia to
cover every insured club member at any sanctioned Rally. No ticket,
but you pay an insurance premium of $8 Aus. Fifteen to 20 years ago
there was a terrific rally at a place called Reedy Lake. It had
everything, plowing, steam launches, engines, traction engines, and
rollers. They also served an evening meal on the Saturday night,
complete with a real old fashion singsong after the meal. BUT it
was never a real success for the organizers, not a lot of public
showed up. Now I would not hesitate to pay a fee to attend that
rally because it was an ENGINE MANS RALLY. I also wholly agree with
you in that if we are exhibiting at a successful rally we should be
exempt from fees. -Phillip

I think that is a good idea of having the fee to pay for
insurance. I don’t even know if the shows I go to have
insurance, but in today’s world insurance is a must to cover
you know what. -Tom

I’m sure this will be like throwing gas on a fire, but
I’m well known for speaking my mind, so here it goes.

I don’t think getting charged a small price to show my
engines is out of line. When I attend a show, I walk around some,
take in the sights and talk to as many people as I can. If you
think you should get a free ride just because you brought something
to show, maybe you should spend the entire time right next to your
engine never leaving to see what else is out there. Now don’t
get me wrong. I spend a lot of time around my stuff making flour,
ice cream, etc. But, if I feel like a walk-about I shut down and
take one. – Brad

So, following that logic, should the judges, facilitators,
emcees, security, food vendors, show committee members, etc, all
pay that same admission? I mean, they DO get to see the show while
they are there. – Tim

If a show wants me to join the club to display, that’s not a
problem, because I probably would join anyway just to support their
efforts. It helps them grow, make improvements and keep on going. I
appreciate them providing a place for me to show my rusty iron.
It’s better than keeping it hidden away like a lot of folks do,
where no one else can see it. But if they want to charge me like a
spectator with no benefit of membership, I just might never go

I remember when a place in Indiana did that a few years back. I
never went back, and never renewed my membership. I’m not sure
they miss me and the money I spent at the show and in the area – I
bet they don’t even know or much less care.

I belong to several engine clubs and just show up when I can to
support the function.

Sometimes I don’t show up, but they get my few dollars for
membership anyway.

I don’t particularly like freeloaders, those who won’t
even consider giving a few bucks to join or support a club’s
efforts to provide a place to display their old, mostly forgotten
items of the past.

Now, to change the topic a bit, when going to a new show I call
ahead and if I can’t keep my engines on the trailer, and park
my truck with it, I don’t show up as a participant (several I
like to go to in Pennsylvania are like this). Again, I may show up
as a spectator and pay the entrance fee, and that’s my choice.
– Paul

Some random thoughts, almost guaranteed to annoy almost
everybody – insurance: When you show your toys, are you fully
self-insured? Do you expect the club to cover your sorry butt
should some kid get hurt on your display? How much is that piece of
mind worth?

Between Medina and 9-11, many clubs saw their premiums take a
double hit last year (insurance companies don’t lose money –
ever). Also, more and more insurance companies are requiring that
exhibitors be members for two reasons; one so that they know who
(and how many) is to be covered liability wise; and two, because as
a member you can’t as easily sue yourself for stupid things
like a flat tire or pinholes in a tarp.

Toilets: Can you hold your own for three to four days like a
camel? Do you rent your own and bring it? How much is even that
smelly blue thing worth? Camping space: When was the last time you
priced a night at KOA or at the Roof? Does the club have security?
Vendors: The fellow out in the flea market is usually paying $10 a
day, or more, the guy next to you is mostly ‘exhibiting’
price tags. Or perhaps you just happened to bring along ‘a
few’ pieces to unload while you’re there – IS that really
fair to the club?

I’ve heard the small engine lot at several shows referred to
as ‘flea market east.’ In my opinion, someone should be
rather ashamed of that. I do not include invited professional
vendors in this category, they are obviously guests.

Labor: A lot of clubs are being pressed into ‘hiring’
the local Boy Scouts, 4-H, FFA, or firemen to do things that
volunteers used to do (like park cars, run various refreshment
stands, pickup trash, etc.) due to lack of people willing to help.
These organizations usually expect a generous donation in return
for their efforts.

And then there is the ‘exhibitor’ with one Maytag, a
42-foot motor home, a noisy generator that runs around the clock
and his entire extended family along for the fun. Or the
‘exhibitor’ who brings his buddy and an engine that they
never unload, never start and, in fact never even uncover. They
just hauled it in to save $3 a head.

I don’t know where to even start on these fine fellows, but
the question is, where do you (as a reasonable show promoter) draw
the line? At some point it’s just easier to charge everybody a
few shekels. My $.02, your mileage may vary. – Allen

I don’t think getting charged a small price to show my
engines is out of line.

SmokStak is an engine conversation bulletin board with over
15,000 messages on file and is part of the Old Engine series of web
sites that started in 1995 as ‘Harry’s Old Engine.’
Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine
collector from Oswego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota,

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