Finally: It's show season! Like a kid in a candy shop, I like the looks of pretty much everything I see. I've flagged most of the pages of the Farm Collector Show Directory, and made plans to take in roughly twice as many shows as there are weekends between now and September. Clearly, something has to give!
But even my pared-down list offers plenty of action. I'm planning to take in meets put on by the dairy items collectors, hay tool folks and windmillers. Then I'll aim for parts of the country I've not been to before. Go to different parts of the country, and you see different pieces and different events. At a show in Esko, Minn., they dig potatoes. In Dothan, Ala., they harvest peanuts. Outside of Brownsville, Pa., they claim to have the largest digging show in the U.S. In East Waterfield, also in Pennsylvania, they have a lumberjack competition.
When I go to a show, I make a plan that's only slightly less structured than, say, the landing of Allied troops in Normandy. Schedules with 15-minute slots are composed. Maps are highlighted with Features Not To Be Missed. The club president's cell number is plugged into my phone. Watches are synchronized. And then, generally within the first hour of Day One, the plan is abandoned and I surrender to the happy chaos.
Every show is unique, but here's what I look forward to: unexpected displays, the display with huge personality, demonstrations of just about anything, people having fun. I like a fresh-squeezed cup of lemonade as I wander through the flea market where literally anything - or nothing at all - might turn up. I'm drawn to detailed signage on displays, the kinds of signs that deliver tons of background information. If an exhibitor gets engaged with his audience, I'm hooked. I like the sound of stationary steam engines (any steam engine, really), the chatter of the gas engines and the throaty rumble of a Rumely. I like picturing a show as a vast machine itself, full of whirling gears and sliding pistons all running at once, independent and yet connected. Are there kids involved? Draft horses? Milking machines? Porcelain signs? Multiple generations sitting in the shade? Volunteers enjoying themselves? Trains? Construction equipment? Doodlebugs? I'm in, with both feet. See you at the show!
Leslie McManus, Editor