By Staff
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Learning the ropes: Local kids make rope at last year's Wilson County Old Iron Days in Fredonia, Kan.

Editor, rbackus@ogdenpubs.com

Introducing a new generation to the hobby is a matter of great
interest to the old-iron community. It’s a subject that comes
up regularly on the  Smok Stak Internet bulletin board (read
the discussion on page 13), and from what I’m hearing it’s
being addressed more and more at the local show level.

Since it formed in 1999, the Wilson County Old Iron Club in
Fredonia, Kan., has been working with local school districts by
inviting kids for a special Friday exposition at its annual Wilson
County Old Iron Days. Last year, 800 kids toured the show, learning
about everything from shelling corn to how old engines work.
It’s history in motion, and the payoff extends beyond the
lessons learned by the students. In the case of the Wilson County
Old Iron Club, pulling in students has also pulled in new members.
The club had 25 members at its founding in 1999, but thanks to its
active campaign to involve local school children the club’s
roster has grown to over 100 in five short years.

By joining the club and becoming a part of bringing history
alive, local old-iron fans have recognized the opportunity to
involve themselves in a constructive, instructional role with their
younger citizens. ‘I’m not sure who has more fun, the
students or the old men in the club,’ club president Byron
Githens says.

The enthusiasm is clearly infectious, and this year the special
exposition has been expanded to two days. Githens says the local
schools are thrilled with the show, and as many as 1,200 students
are expected to make the rounds Sept. 23-24, 2004, as the show
moves to bigger digs at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.

The Wilson County Old Iron Club is just one example, of course,
as shows around the country are taking note of their unique
opportunity to be a part of their local community. It’s a
win-win situation for everyone, and our hat’s are off to all of
you who work to bring the next generation into the old-iron
collective. To learn more about the Wilson County Old Iron Days,
contact Byron Githens at (620) 378-3307;

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