Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club's Home, Sweet Home
The new home of the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club sits on 80 acres and has 10 new buildings
The office and bookstore are at the heart of the show. A flagpole donated by the family of former member Perry Ramsey stands just outside the office. Ten buildings were erected at the site in the past 15 months.
There's no place like home.
If the Badger Steam and Gas Engine Club had a motto, that'd be it. Club members put the finishing touches on their new home - an 80-acre complex outside Baraboo, Wis.,– just hours before the club's annual show opened Aug. 21.
"We've had a very busy winter," said club president Don Paskey, with no small understatement. During a 15-month period that began in May 1997, club members constructed 10 buildings on 40 acres at the site. Today, there are permanent buildings for gas engines, steam engines, the shingle mill, band saw, boiler, restrooms, an office and a retail bookstore.
And there's still plenty of space for a flea market and parking.
The Badger show - one of the biggest engine shows in the state - was held at the Baraboo fairgrounds for 34 years. But as the club grew, the space there seemed to shrink. The decision was made to purchase land, and three years ago, volunteers began clearing brush at the new site. Nearly half of the 80-acre site remains heavily wooded, and shade is in abundant supply throughout the grounds.
The decision to relocate, and to purchase land, was a big step for the 600-member club.
"It was a very, very trying task," he said. "But when you have very dedicated people, things can work. When you rent a show grounds, you're restricted more in what you can do. We wanted to put up buildings, have a 'yesteryear' display. Now we have those, and we're adding more. We'd like to build a big food court, and a blacksmith shop, and an old woodworking shop. And we want to bring in an old church from the country to hold our services in."
But the work crew will be taking a well-deserved break first.
"We have about 150 members who are actively involved, who help with the work projects, and make donations of one kind or another," Don said. "Of that 150, we probably had 50 who, in the last few months, were here seven days a week. We've been scurrying around to get things ready. A lot of these guys have been working here until midnight, night after night.
"It's a lot of fun, but they're getting tired. It's time to take a breather for a month or so, and then start planning for next year's show."