Route 2, Box 330, Bridgewater, Virginia 22812
The eighth annual Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Company's Steam and Gas Meet and Lawn Party is now history, and even though the weather was extremely hot, the show was very successful. The Meet combines a look into America's agricultural past, as well as entertainment in the form of a lawn party, with all the ham sandwiches and chicken you can eat, rides, and games for young and old, and all the friends you could hope to meet and visit with. Yes, Bridgewater has a lot going, but the main reasons the Steam and Gas Meet is such a success are cooperation, Shenandoah Valley hospitality, and the interest of exhibitors.
Efforts over the years have directed the Bridgewater Show toward spectator interest. In doing so, several activities are not encouraged, in order to preserve space for exhibitors to show off results of many hours of hard work. Facilities are limited, and through necessity, flea markets and camping on the grounds have been omitted. However, local camping facilities are available.
Quality and pride are abundant at Bridgewater. Farm tractors, with detailed restoration, display fine paint and sparkling decals. They will roam the grounds until late at night, recalling the value of the early farm tractor and the important part it played in a period of America's history, when agriculture began to industrialize and grow into something other than just a family business. Three hundred gas engines of all sizes are on exhibit and running, anxious to tell their story. No matter how small, many a farm family could not go about their day to day life without the aid of the gas engine. Many folks, young and old, marvel at the steam engines, the steam shovel, and the untiring engineers, who proudly operate the monsters they have nurtured back to life from their forgotten graveyards.
Antique automobiles have their place at the Bridgewater Show, and participate in the antique parade on Saturday. Three hundred of these beauties are on exhibit and admired by many.
When was the last time you saw a 1901 'curved dash' Oldsmobile, an 1884 10 h.p. Garr Scott traction engine, a 1914 Quincy tractor, and a 1905 Mietz and Weiss engine at the same show. You can see all of these at the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Company's Steam and Gas Meet and Lawn Party.
Probably the most outstanding observation about the Bridgewater Gas and Steam Meet is the importance exhibitors place on thorough restoration of machinery. Bridge-water has earned the reputation of one of the few shows in the East where machinery is restored to showroom condition.
One can only guess as to the reasons why interest in antique machinery is so high in this mid-Shenandoah Valley Community. Probably the main factor is the local area itself. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Valley is predominantly agriculture, with the influence of the Mennonite folk and their traditions. Enthusiasm is at an all-time high at the Bridgewater Meet, and the future looks bright. Exhibitors realize as soon as they arrive, that no one is a stranger at the Bridgewater Volunteer Fire Company's Steam and Gas Meet and Lawn Party.
For information about the ninth annual meet, write: Ralph R. Rhodes, Route 1, Bridgewater, Virginia 22812. The 1978 Meet will be held July 13, 14, 15, in Bridgewater, Virginia.