STEAM & GAS ENGINE CLUB, INC.
Route 2, New Auburn, Wisconsin 54757
The Ninth Annual Hungry Hollow Steam and Gas Engine Show reunion was held on the weekend of July 1st and 2nd, 1978.
Allow me to give you a brief history of the club which was organized to preserve and restore historical machinery and related arts and crafts of operation. In so doing they present an annual show for education and enjoyment to the public. The club itself, you would have to say, is basically gas engine with a small spattering of tractors and some steam with a very nice line of models. They like to claim to have some of the largest gas engines in this area and I believe some of the finest restorations you will see anywhere. As the club membership is small and show expenses large, we find it impossible to put on a free show at this time, but try to reimburse the public with free souvenirs and some nice door prizes (including a TV this year). All exhibitors receive a plaque in appreciation, but you must register with the office. Our objective is not to make money, only have a fun weekend, reunite old friends, make some new ones and try to cover expenses.
The previous eight shows were held at the Tony Prock Farm, rural Rice Lake. Following the 1977 show Tony asked the club if they could find a different location as he needed to put the 10acre lot back into farm production. Barron County Fairgrounds at Rice Lake was approved and proved to be adequate. There's plenty of shade and ample buildings for space to accommodate the exhibitors with exhibitor camping available.
As we tried to get organized on Friday afternoon the rain began and grew more intense as the night approached. Couldn't help think about the day ahead as I lay in the motel room only a block from the fairgrounds listening to the pounding rain. Much to my surprise the next morning, exhibitors began to arrive, despite the weather which had subsided to intermittant showers. Equipment arrived from Chippewa Valley Club at Eau Claire, North Central of Wausau, Trempealeau County show, Sussex, Lake Elmo, Minnesota show, and many independent exhibitors. The club was honored to have many nice gas tractors arrive and two steam engines, one traction engine. You know these are real engine buffs to brave this weather and you can really get to know a fellow helping unload ankle deep in mud and soaking wet. The day offered little more but time to reminisce, drink coffee, chew tobacco, polish brass, prowl the flea markets and would you believe even a little horse trading took place??!!
Saturday night was a rerun of Friday night. By daylight the rain had stopped and a jacket felt good, also protected you from the mosquitos. Church was held and the towering pines seemed to form a perfect cathedral. I had much to be thankful for that morning as we learned after checking with home that a tornado had passed 6 miles from our home destroying many neighboring farms, but only minor damage to ours. The boys from the Coulee Club didn't fair so well as they were caught in some flash flooding and couldn't make the trip.
Shortly after church my iron picking brother arrived and barked 'Crank 'em up fellas, it's clearing in the west!!' which it never did, but it didn't rain anymore either. Enough people braved the wet grounds and threatening weather to term the show a success.
One of the spectators captured my attention, a blind man. He seemed to be enjoying himself. Was it the sounds that related to him? Then I thought, maybe also the smells. With the heavy cool air and no wind, it was a perfect day to follow your nose. The rainfresh white pine offered its own bouquet. From the sawmill came the fragrance of fresh cut popple, mingled with steam, cylinder oil, wood smoke from the #65 Case, traces of cedar off the shingle mill, plus oak from the Appleton drag saw. Now you have the rythmic barking of a Mogul that's definitely kerosene. A 25 HP Bessemer adds a dash of propane fumes and fresh ground corn from a burr mill. There's a steam popcorn wagon that beckons and the aroma of coffee and fried cakes warms your middle. And one of my favorites, new paint getting hot on the cylinder head of someone's freshly restored gem. Add this to the slapping belts, saws cutting, steam whistles and some old time live music. I could tell by the smile on his lips, he was enjoying the symphony and was reunited with some fond memories.
Hungry Hollow's 10th Annual is planned for June 30, and July 1,1979 at the same location. Come and be part of it, we are planning something special!!