2277 Berry Road, Amelia, Ohio 45102
Reported in Gas Engine Magazine January-February 1972 issue was the excitement of the first show sponsored by the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Association (OVAM) in August 1971. At this show a dream was started the dream of OVAM having its very own grounds for shows and other events. Of being able to set up events and machinery and not having to dismantle or move after the show, of having a museum and activities all year round.
As years passed the show continued to grow, and the fairgrounds became too congested, which became a safety issue. The show also had several leads on big antique equipment, log cabins, other buildings, and bridges which needed to be preserved on a permanent location. Something had to be done.
After the 1990 show the directors and members of OVAM seriously set forth looking for a parcel of land that would serve as a show grounds and museum. In November 1990, a tract of land came up for a sheriffs sale.
The ground was perfect for our purpose. It was one mile west from the fairgrounds and Georgetown, Ohio, with mature trees and good drainage, and was bordered by a major highway. It was a beautiful layout for a show grounds, as well as for a museum. Could this property be the answer to our dream?
OVAM directors voted to try to buy the property, with Shrouded Machinery offering to loan any additional money needed. OVAM was the successful bidder. Our dream came true. One week after the auction, OVAM transported a huge Corliss steam engine to the grounds, saving it from becoming scrap.
Shortly thereafter, a large 90 HP Buckeye oil engine was donated by Paul Weber of Winchester, Kentucky. This engine was moved and mounted on a permanent foundation. And later the mascot of the OVAM, the 1920 Bucyrus steam shovel, was moved to its final home. The Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Association finally now seems complete. The grounds caused a bond and a common goal, and community support grew with many contributions of time and money. Sporty's Pilot Shop of Clermont County donated the money needed for an administration building and a flagpole. Holt Refakis Equipment Company of Cincinnati donated a 75 KW generator, so we could always be equipped with our own electric, as we did not have electric service for the Fall Festival in October 1991.
At the Fall Festival a mortgage burning was performed and the grounds were officially paid off. The monumental task of constructing a show grounds then began putting in water, electric, telephone service, restrooms, roads, fences, complete camping facilities, and much more.
It was our intention to do this in a span of four years and by 1995, the 25th anniversary of the OVAM show, to have a grand anniversary celebration and first show on new grounds, but this was not to be. It was made by the powers that be, economically impossible to have a show at the fairgrounds again. The problems at the time seemed insurmountable OVAM had no chance but to fight or give up to sink or swim. It is times like this you find out what people and organizations are made of, who your friends are, and, I have to add, what antique machinery people all over are all about.
So in August 1992, OVAM was to have its first show on the new grounds, no matter what. Quite an undertaking when as yet it was basically still bare grounds and nowhere near ready to support 40,000 or 45,000 visitors with only nine months to get ready. Let alone the fact that the next nine months the only weather forecast was rain. Someone started counting the weekends it didn't rain; out of 20 weekends before the show, there were only three it did not rain! That meant that many unselfishly worked on the grounds during the week whenever they could. The economy of course was down, people losing their jobs and those of us with jobs working longer hours.
With the determination, self-sacrifice and leadership of the president, vice president, directors, members of OVAM, the telephone and electric workers, county inspectors, and countless other individuals of the surrounding communities, the show grounds were ready for the big acid-test, its first four day show. In doing so, determining the strengths and the weaknesses of all the planning and building of the show grounds. One strength of the show grounds is the ability to shed water. Rain, of course, is a show killer. We had mild rain and the grounds were wet and soggy from a year of rain, but the show went on and the grounds were usable. Yes, you would get your boots muddy-slurry but not to the point of tromping through six inches of mud, paralyzing the show and not being able to have fun with your tractors. Stopping the show in its tracks, as would have happened at other locations, didn't happen, even with two inches of rain Friday night. Many handicapped individuals were able to get around with electric carts or wheelchairs.
The show grounds are flat-to-rolling with a valley and creek running through the middle, surrounded by mature trees with a stage (30 x 60) in the center of it all, making it a natural amphitheater for the parades, live entertainment, square dancing, clogging, etc. Other features include streetlights, water, electric, telephones, restrooms strategically located throughout the grounds, unlimited primitive camping, 200 camping spaces with water, electric, and unlimited access to the grounds, and secured parking for exhibitors in back of the grounds. Also OVAM has purchased a large sawmill and a building for permanent working display of the sawmill and shingle mill which will be in place by August 12-15, 1993 show.
The plans of future projects are in process now, which include a narrow-gauge steam railroad and museum. (We have two locomotives located to restore but not nailed-down as yet. Any leads on railroad equipment please call 513-734-2501.) Also there's a pioneer village with all the craft shops like the blacksmith shop, and the list goes on.
1992 saw OVAM start a newsletter, published quarterly or whenever it needs to be, used to organize and help preserve whatever we can of the past and make the best use of all our time, money and talents.
The first OVAM show was a grand success. The support from Old Iron People all over was tremendous. Ford/Ford-son people trucked their machines from all over, from Minnesota to New Jersey, Florida to Texas. Machinery enthusiasts came from all over the country, upwards of 500 tractors not counting all the other machinery despite the rain.
Support from the three-state media was exceptional. Many newspapers and radio stations supported our endeavors. WAXZ Radio out of Georgetown set up a portable studio and broadcast all four days from the show grounds. Channel 9 TV out of Cincinnati came out and took video footage for the news. Ed Johnson of the syndicated radio and TV program 'ABN Network' and 'Agri-Country,' did his TV program on Friday from the show.
Representatives from Cincinnati Technical College came out and set up a display demonstrating antique aircraft engines. Support and excitement came from everywhere. On a sad note, many who shared this dream are no longer with us. If it weren't for them, Gas Engine Magazine, and those with vision who got things going back in 1972, we wouldn't be here today. Thank you.
Come visit us August 12-15, 1993, when the National Meet of the Massey-Harris, Massey-Ferguson, Ferguson, Wallis family of tractors and equipment will be featured. Become a member of OVAM Association or at least get involved and help preserve a piece of history wherever you are. For information call 513-734-2501.