Western Montana Fair Features Engine Display Engine Cook Off Planned for '91


| August/September 1991



The Western Montana Fair P.O. Box 2310 Missoula, Montana 59806

A few weeks before the 1990 Western Montana Fair, I began thinking of having watched some old engines on display at other fairs and wondered why we didn't have them at ours. The more I thought of these engines and the interest they received, the more I decided folks would be interested and it might be fun to have a display.

I began to contact people whom I knew had some interest in them, placed a small ad in a weekly paper and finally received the name: Ted Mahoney. Ted is a gentleman who lives some miles south of our community who, it turned out, not only had an interest in the engines but has quite a collection of them himself. I visited Ted and told him what I would like to do, and he thought that he could possibly get a few other fellows from the area interested in coming into the Fair and displaying their engines. We were not very fancy or formal about the thing, but I told him we could probably get those exhibitors admissions and a place to park, and if they wanted ribbons or anything we might be able to do that, although Ted did not feel it was necessary. I went home thinking that in a few weeks we might have half a dozen engines-put the matter out of my head and made a note to call Ted back before the Fair.

It was about 10:00 a.m. on the following Monday when my phone rang and a gentleman said he was the Ted Mahoney whom I had met on the previous Thursday, and as far as he could see he said he had approximately 20 guys wanting to come to the Fair and show their engines! Could we handle them ? Well I figured 20 guys/20 engines would work just swell. I told him I figured we could do this. In my lack of experience in this matter, I did not realize that all cast iron wheel collectors have an engine which they like to proudly show off. I also did not realize they each had two or three others which they wanted to show-more or less their second string of engines.

It was opening day of the Fair, when 45 engines showed up, that I realized we were going to have a little larger event than I anticipated. As it turned out, things went extremely smooth. The guys had a good time. At one time they had all 45 engines running, with approximately 1000 people around asking questions. For Ted's work and effort in putting the show together, he was presented with one of our special Director Ribbons for his hard work. We pay our superintendents a little bit, not very much, in fact it hardly pays their gas, but Ted signed his check back to the Fair office because he said we needed to buy buttons for the guys next year. He donated his stipend for their venture. This year we will have the buttons, also an anticipated 120 or more engines! Certainly the interest and the fun warrants the increase in the arrangements for putting this show together. Indeed we are thinking this could well be the biggest show of this kind in the state.

When I realized that the engine enthusiasts all had more than one engine, it seemed kind of odd to me as I do not collect anything. Then I got to remembering that I have an old Wade drag saw up at my cabin that I had bought 10 or 15 years ago which has just been sitting around. I also remembered I had a Maytag sitting out in my garage. I got it when someone gave it to me, as I had an old Maytag washer in my yard. Then by golly, I remembered I had bought a Rawleigh-Schryer. By gosh, I just realized I have three of them, and I thought these guys were a little on the radical side on collecting these things!