"Nothing endures but change." - Heraclitus 540-480 B.C.
Want to see the old iron hobby endure? Take a tip from the fast-food chains: Mix it up.
Your neighborhood taco joint works with an arsenal of about 10 core ingredients. But every month a new banner waves out front, proclaiming "NEW! TRY OUR GREAT NEW WHATSY!" More often than not, it's the same old ingredients assembled in a new manner … but it's enough to pull in the crowds.
What's your club done lately to draw in new members? Sure, the "same old, same old" is good enough for your tried-and-true population, the ones who will be there through thick and thin. But is the "same old, same old" pulling in new blood?
The good news: You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Take a tip from the Panhandle Antique Tractor and Engine Club in Idaho. That group did nothing more than hold a tractor drive, and in the process picked up two new members - a 5 percent increase in the club's membership rolls. What could your club do with a 5 percent boost? At the very least, it's more comrades in arms, more likeminded enthusiasts and more manpower at your next show. Just as important, it builds for the future.
Tractor drives, an increasingly popular activity all over the country, are a perfect example of mixing it up. Same people, same old iron; new venue. Such an event requires a bit of organization, but otherwise the infrastructure already exists. For the participant, the tractor drive ranks high on the fun scale, but low in terms of time and labor commitment … and these days, those latter two are important factors.
Tractor drives aren't for everybody, won't work in every locale and they're no replacement for your club's traditional, well-supported events. But they are a creative response to "the same-old-thing blues." If you're hearing a chorus of "We've never done it that way" or "We've always done it this way," think tacos: It may be time to mix it up!
Leslie McManus, Editor