Mid-Iowa Magic: Antique Power Show

The Mid-Iowa Antique Power Association's annual Antique Power Show has it all.

| May 2006

Whether your passion is animal power, steam power, or petroleum power, the Mid-Iowa Antique Power Association's (MIAPA) annual Antique Power Show has something for you. Now approaching its 22nd year, the show is still expanding, but it hasn't yet outgrown the group's 40-acre grounds west of Marshalltown. With that much space, MIAPA members grow their own oats and corn and have space for extensive field demonstrations, permanent installations, and hundreds of exhibitors. "We still have room to expand," explains avid show supporter Les Tempel. "That gives us a lot of flexibility with the demonstrations, and lets us try new things without crowding out something else."

The MIAPA was born in late 1984 out of an effort by the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Committee to enhance relationships between local towns and associated farming communities. By August 1985, the group had incorporated and held its first Antique Power Show on land offered by the Marshalltown Community College's board. "It was a real community effort," recalls founding member Irene Ellsberry. "The college even provided ground to grow oats for the threshing." Within five years, the MIAPA had outgrown that space. In 1990 they obtained a long-term lease from Marshall County on a parcel along U.S. Highway 30 about 8 miles west of town.

Today the MIAPA event focuses on live demonstrations, and though static displays are welcomed, hands-on is the name of the game. From horses plowing down a rank stand of red clover, to steam engines powering large stationary machines, to any manner of petroleum power being put to the test, Marshalltown provides diverse stimulations for old-iron senses. Last summer's 21st Antique Power Show featured Allis-Chalmers tractors, Percheron draft horses, and Stover stationary engines, but the celebration welcomed all comers. "We aren't particular," says MIAPA member Vernon Waterman, while cranking up his 1923 Waterloo Boy. "We just require folks to have a good time."

Fieldwork Brings Them in

In most parts of the developed agricultural world, land plowing is a practice of the past. However, as anyone who has done it knows, turning the soil with a well-scoured piece of iron coupled to a seasoned source of power is about as close to heaven as fieldwork gets. At Marshalltown everyone is invited to experience that magic.

Mike Mayland of Iowa Falls prefers the power of horses. "I am just a horse guy," Mike explains, stopping at the end of the furrow to let his team rest. "A good team is a joy to work with." Mike's seasoned pair of Belgian draft horses clearly demonstrates that they know what they are doing in the field. In practice, Mike prefers the sulky plow to the walking plow, but notes that it still requires some effort to keep it together. "I have to keep an eye on the plow, the furrow and the horses," he says from the seat of his Oliver single-bottom plow. "Lucy and Buttercup are better at it than I am."

Tractors are also used. In one instance, a John Deere multi-bottom gangplow was pulled by an 80 hp J.I. Case steam engine, and in the other, a petroleum-powered Aultman & Taylor shouldered the burden. At one point no fewer than 30 machines sporting metalwork in various shades of green, red, gray, yellow, orange, blue, and rust turned the earth in parade-like fashion. "People love to plow," Les Tempel says as he climbs up into the seat of his John Deere 60. "But some take it a lot more seriously than others."