‘Way Down Upon The Swanee River,’ There’s A Great Engine Show

By Staff
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The trees were full of tractors.
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International corn husker pulled by a Farmall H tractor, owned by Lee and Bill Erixton of White Springs, FL.

P.O. Box 6, 69 East Main Street Wilmington, Vermont

What possible relationship could there be between the soft
melodies composed by Stephen Foster and the ‘WHOOF, Huff, Huff,
Huff of a hit and miss governed and the staccato bark of a properly
adjusted throttle governed one lung engine, or the steady roar of
an antique tractor pulling an equally antique corn husker? Really,
none that I can think of. But the annual Tractor, Engine and Craft
Show at the Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center at White
Springs, Florida, presents the opportunity to enjoy it all.

The seventh annual show was held on March 31, April 1 and
2,1995. The author was unable to obtain an exact count of the
number of exhibits, or the states represented. Those in charge of
the show stated that it was the largest ever. Exhibitors came from
as far away as the New England states.

The show consists of the usual displays of antique machinery and
flea markets, plus a daily tractor parade, tractor pulls, and
working demonstrations of threshing, corn husking and shelling, hay
baling, wood sawing, log splitting, trailer backing, plus whatever
demonstrations the exhibitors might bring.

The first day of the show is devoted to children’s
activities, including a coloring contest, toy exhibit and a pedal
tractor pull. Area school children are bused to the center.

The Stephen Foster State Folk Culture Center is maintained by
the Division of Recreation and Parks of the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection, and is open all year. It is located on
the banks of the Suwannee River, near the site of White Sulphur
Springs, a former health resort that was visited by such famous
persons as Teddy Roosevelt.

The foundations of the buildings and the cement enclosure was
constructed to keep the river from overflowing the springs

The center has a museum that is filled with Stephen Foster
memorabilia, including animated dioramas depicting Stephen Foster
songs, a carillon tower that houses the world’s largest tubular
bell instrument and rings out Foster’s music throughout the
day, and a craft square, featuring a working blacksmith shop, a
potter and quilt making. Articles made at the craft shops can be

Stephen Foster probably never saw the Suwannee River, although
he made it famous with the song, ‘Old Folks At Home,’ now
the official Florida State song. According to legend, he wrote the
words for the song, then wrote to a friend asking for the name of a
river in Florida that would fit the lyrics. The friend suggested
the Suwannee River, which became ‘Swanee’ in the song.

The center also has a picnic area and campground with shower
facilities, some sites with electric and water hookups, and a
sanitary dumping station.

An entrance fee is charged for day visitors, and for use of the
campground. All exhibitors are admitted free and have full use of
the facilities. No hookup camping is provided.

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