Read about one editor's experience at a gas engine show on a fairground in Hamilton, Missouri.
In late summer, I attended my first event as part of the Gas Engine Magazine team. The clear, blue sky was perfect for an outdoor gathering and it was just hot enough to remind everyone it was August. You couldn’t ask for better midwest summer weekend weather.
There is something truly enchanting about visiting small towns. I grew up in various neighborhoods in a sizeable city in Kansas, and now have a rural home on the outskirts of the same town with plenty of land surrounding us. Despite my chickens and my view of corn and soybean fields from every window, I’m still a short highway drive away from all aspects of city life. I hear sirens regularly and the stars aren’t quite as bright. When I spend time in a smaller town, whether it’s traveling solo or visiting friends, I try my best to live in the moment and let go of the distractions left behind. I’m sure to make plenty of time for exploring and people watching, and while it may not be a thrilling, fast-paced experience, things that stimulate the senses in new ways are moments worth living.
At any show there are many joys to be had; watching a young person’s eyes light up when something sparks interest in them for the first time, having a conversation with a stranger and the next time you see them you consider them a friend, or experiencing a face-to-face reconnection with someone you’ve known for many years, but the miles and responsibilities of real life have kept you apart. These things are always present in gatherings that celebrate community, but perhaps this year we value them much more.
This event was different. Like other fairgrounds, there were the tangible things; food for purchase, flea market items to haggle over, T-shirt booths with just about any message a person could think to convey (and maybe shouldn’t). But it was clear that show attendees were seeking more, we all were. We were looking for that tiny slice of normality we had before the pandemic hit. We were seeking that thing that can’t be bought, sold or put on display: the human connection that comes with being part of a community.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and most of 2020 has proven this to be true for me. I’ve missed things I never thought I would. Moments like exchanging pleasantries with the checker at the grocery stores, shaking hands with strangers, chatting with nearby people while waiting in a line, or smiling at kids in strollers with wide, curious eyes. In this small-town gathering, people were still safely displaying kindness and community, and they welcomed me with open arms. I attended hoping to get some great stories and photos to share with the gas engine community. I took away much more, hope and peace of mind. The pandemic hasn’t taken our sense of community, and we will always have kindness to fall back on.
Thanks to the many friendly faces that shared your nostalgia, tales and facts with me. I have included some of what I experienced on the following pages. However, there were simply too many wonderful things to include in one issue. Watch future issues of Gas Engine Magazine for more of what was discovered in Hamilton, Missouri.
Please share news of events and send us your show photos. I look forward to meeting more of you in the future!