As this issue heads to the printer, I'm putting away the suitcase: It is the end of show season for me. The season of '06 stretched from April to September, from California to New York, and ended in my own backyard, geographically speaking, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
Everyone who frequents shows has a favorite, and for me, Mt. Pleasant is that show. Each year as I enter the grounds, I have the uncanny feeling of having stumbled onto a sort of Midwestern version of Brigadoon, the Scottish town of Broadway musical fame that could be seen by outsiders only every 100 years. It is as if the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion materializes out of the fog, and no matter what the calendar says, it feels as though only a day has passed since my last visit.
For a variety of eminently sensible reasons, Farm Collector and sister publications Gas Engine Magazine and Steam Traction set up shop at just one show - Mt. Pleasant - each year. Our crew has become well familiar with the rhythm and pace of the show. We know shortcuts through the grounds … we have our favorite lunch stands … we know who to ask when we need help with logistics. All of that, however, is secondary to the people.
At the shows, after all, we get to meet with you, our readers. And what a joy that is! We hear from you all year, through mail, e-mail and phone calls. But nothing beats a handshake and a face-to-face chat; nothing beats renewal of old friendships. Restoration projects, story leads, things you like in the magazines, things you don't, neat things you've seen at the show - those are all music to our ears.
It's also a time when stories are shared. A fellow who stopped to visit at the tent at Mt. Pleasant noted that he was just old enough to remember life before rural electrification and indoor plumbing. "We had water, of course," he said, "but Dad always called it walking water."
As a fan of the understated humor of the heartland, I laughed when I heard the line. Still, memory being what it is, one day soon it'll fade from my mind, crowded out by something more pressing. But it's not gone forever. Months from now, something will prod my memory. I'll recall "walking water" and the chat in a tent on a bright summer day, and a smile will spread across my face. For me, that's the beauty of show season. Like Brigadoon, it never really goes away.
Leslie McManus, Editor