Batavia, Ill. Holds International Windmillers Trade Fair
Batavia, Ill., rolls out the red carpet for the International Windmillers Trade Fair
Trailers loaded with replacement parts were a draw for trade fair visitors.
Photo Courtesy Leslie C. McManus
When the 2012 International Windmillers Trade Fair opened in Batavia, Ill., last June, it was like old home week for a community known historically as “the Windmill Capital of the World.”
Nearly 300 windmill enthusiasts from the U.S., Canada and Australia attended the three-day event headquartered at Batavia High School. Brisk business of buying, selling and trading was underway in the school’s parking lot and displays of windmill collectibles and literature were set up inside. An impressive display in the school’s lobby featuring a restored Halladay Standard windmill and a Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Co. pump and tank left no doubt that the local community had rolled out the red carpet for trade fair visitors.
Two rare windmills were stationed just outside the school’s main entry: A Comet, manufactured by U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Co., Batavia, and an 8-foot Decorah built by Snow Mfg. Co. in nearby Geneva, Ill. The Decorah had ties to the Challenge company. “Thomas Snow, who was from Decorah, Iowa, was an investor in Decorah (Iowa) Windmill Co. He was also president of Challenge Wind Mill & Feed Mill Co.,” explains restorer Dan Herrig, Grand Forks, N.D. “In 1898, the company was moved to Geneva, Ill., and the name was changed to Snow Wind Mill Co., and later Snow Mfg.” In 1902, the firm was moved to Batavia, where it was eventually liquidated.
When found, the windmill had seen better days. “The fan needed straightening and reworking,” Dan says, “and the tail vane was going in all directions.” Some parts were missing, but with the aid of original Snow literature they were built from scratch.