Well, here we are, right in the middle of the show season and
what better time to start thinking about next year’s shows?!
Many people who are active in their local club will also get
involved with organising their club shows, and one member of our
internet mailing list who is in this position asked for some input
to help make his show better than ever next year.
What makes an engine show great’??
This is in order to help some of the smaller shows grow and the
others to improve upon our ideas. So tell us what do you like and
dislike about the shows you attendgive us your ideas!!!!!!!
I know from experience that the show at Waucanda, Illinois, is a
VERY nice show.
What I think makes it so nice is that people are at their
displays most of the day explaining to the city slickers (who tend
to wear high heels in the grass) how people USED to do things. It
is not a large show, and there is no swap area, but it is a very
nice show for local people to attend to learn about the history of
So, my choice would be where people had a demo going on and were
explaining to the people how things work.
I’ll try to tell you what I like in a show.
Keep in mind I am old and fat and too stubborn to apply for a
handicapped permit, so places like Portland leave me walking when
otherwise I would have a small butt buggy.
My favourite show is Coolspring, Pennsylvania. Here is why:
Parking: I park my pickup and camper right where I set
up my engines. So does most everyone else. That way, my bed,
toilet, food, etc. are handy without lots of walking. There are all
sizes of camping rigs, from tents to big Eagle buses. It works out
Fresh water: for drinking/cooking/refilling the camper
Food: something good, like barbecue.
Shade: is nice, but most people carry their own.
Vendor focus: on the hobby. Taiwan trinkets have little
place at an engine show.
Reasonable membership fee: to be there, same for vendor
fee. Without the exhibitors and vendors, there would be no reason
for the public to come.
Visitor Parking: should be away from the
exhibit/camping area. Transport visitors in on wagons or buses. You
will get better crowd control and reduce the opportunity for
visitors to steal from exhibits or vendors.
Identifiable Club Members: Have plenty of club members
wearing easily identifiable hats or badges to help
exhibitors/vendors who need it.
A farmers’ market section of vendors: Campers will
buy sweet corn, fruits and vegetables.
Activities: I like an opening ceremony, such as the
pledge of allegiance to the flag. A prayer is okay with me, too,
and many like it. Also, I like a consignment auction, preferably
early Saturday afternoon. The auction can charge a fee for the
If tractors are involved, or even garden tractors, a parade is
fun and can engage lots of people for a couple of hours. I
don’t see any point in a tractor pull for antique equipment. I
think we are lucky to get them running at all, let alone put them
Most important for the displayer is how the sponsors of the
event show their appreciation. At a recent show we attended, an
official from the sponsoring club took the time to speak with
participants individually, thanking them for coming. A delicious
dinner was provided for all who displayed, and another official
handed out commemorative coffee cups.
Because of the way that the sponsors made us feel welcome,
we’ll be more likely to attend future shows.
Secondly, a good show will be promoted so that it attracts
plenty of tourists and the layout such that nobody gets stuck out
in the boondocks away from the action. There’s nothing that
puts a damper on a displayer’s enthusiasm as quickly as being
stuck out in the back forty with no tourists coming by to
appreciate his display.
Lastly, the sponsors should strive for diversity. The display of
big engines, small engines, tractors, and working displays should
be mixed. Segregating small engines from the big engines from the
red tractors from the green tractors creates monotony for all but
experts on that particular facet of our hobby. To the expert, a row
of six Springfields is infinitely intriguing, each engine having
its own idiosyncrasies that must be studied and savoured. To the
casual observer, they’re a row of six red engines that are all
alike and will be bypassed after viewing the first one. If the
displays are intermixed, they will hold the attention of the
tourist without boring him or dampening his enthusiasm.
Our local club continues to allow displayers to park their cars
and trucks with our displays. I admit that it’s sometimes handy
to do so, but it makes for a lousy show for the public in my
I agree about having the different makes, models, and sizes
scattered throughout the show. I think that variation is much more
interesting than a long row of like machines. I do, however, like
some degree of order.
While I don’t advocate scrunching everything together, some
shows are just too spread out. I think that keeping everything in
the same zip code is more eye-pleasing and much appreciated by many
of the senior citizens who may have some difficulty walking long
distances but love to look at the old iron.
Although it’s usually not a problem, I think flea market
items, crafts, etc., if present should be kept separated from the
main engine/tractor display. That opinion isn’t always popular
but, again, I think it produces a nicer show.
Finally, although I like a slow running engine, I bet we’ve
all been to shows where three-quarters of the displays weren’t
moving at all. It’s, of course, up to the owner, but I think
clubs should encourage people to actually run their engines.
Belting one up to some demonstration is great, but just the running
engine will attract soooo many more onlookers than a
stationary stationary engine.
Activities for kids go a long way also for those of us with
families. The local show in Dexter has a pedal pull and petting
farm set-up, and is located at a great park with playgrounds. Makes
it a lot easier.
A place to be a Tractor Guy in motion is always nice also.
Whether to allow or not to allow cars/trucks/motor homes in the
display areas is a great controversy among show members. I go to a
lot of shows each year, most of which allow the display vehicles in
the show area. But some do not.
I am of the opinion that if the show grounds will accommodate
people’s vehicles then you should let them in. If you permit
motor homes, then you should permit other vehicles. When I leave
home to go to a show, my truck is loaded with food, coolers,
reference books, extra clothes, chairs, tents, rain gear, tools,
etc., in addition to my trailer with several thousand pounds of
engines. If I need something, my truck is right there. One show
enacted the no vehicle rule last year. Some of our club members
that display a lot of old tools on tables and the back of their
pickup truck were made to unload all their stuff and park a quarter
mile away. They will not go back to that show this year. If there
is order in the method of parking, I feel it looks all right.
How about holding a slow engine race, have a best display award,
or the most creative thing you can do with a hit and miss
Some of the best things about the shows we attend around here
Lots of shade. Who wants to sit in a big open field at the end of
July??? Plant lots of trees!
A big flea market. Give my wife something to do, she can’t
stand to just sit in a chair and watch an engine run.
Give things for kids to do. A barrel train is an excellent way
to occupy a kid, along with crafts and games. Maybe even have a
water balloon toss. (Wet ’em down and wear ’em out.)
I went to a show last year that had a logging competition. Sure
it wasn’t engine-related, but it was neat to watch.
Entertainment is always fun. Our local show has garden tractor
and ATV pulls on Saturday afternoon and a Tractor Rodeo in the
evening. After this, the show building has a concert with a local
band. This gives the people something to do after sundown.
Sunday morning church services are always nice. Many people are
not able to be a part of their home church so at least offer a
service on the show grounds.
Spot trailers. Nothing worse than pulling into a show grounds
with no help to put your trailer in a show area and try to spot it
with a motor home. Keep an EXPERIENCED person on hand with a
tractor to spot your exhibitors.
Free Gas!! One of the shows we attend has a gas truck on site to
fill up exhibitors’ gas cans. They also fill LP gas for the big
engines. At least this encourages folks to run the engines.
Good food with short lines. Who wants to stand in line for a
cold, burnt hamburger??
Working displays are a must. People like to see what this old
iron was used for. It’s even better if they can help. Have a
corn sheller and a bag of corn on hand. Have a Maytag washing
machine with some dirty rags. Let a passerby start the machine.
Well, these are just a few of my likes. Maybe the dislikes list
will come at the END of show season!
A few contributors did come up with some things to avoid:
Starting way before the published dates.
Excessive fees for exhibitors (admissions, mandatory club
membership, camping fees without services).
Not being able to find a spokesman for the area you going to
Excessive food costs.
Loudspeakeritis (Portland is a culprit here).
There is nothing worse than driving three hours to an engine
show and actually winding up at a motorhome convention.
While it seems way too early to start thinking about next show
season, getting ideas and opinions NOW on how things can be
improved at future shows might not be such a bad idea. And if
anyone comes up with the perfect solution to exhibitor parking at
shows, let us know!