Batavia, Ill. Holds International Windmillers Trade Fair

Batavia, Ill., rolls out the red carpet for the International Windmillers Trade Fair

| December 2012

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.  

Other displays on the school’s lawn included antique gas engines and related equipment from Batavia windmill companies. Visitors also enjoyed tours of Daniel Halladay’s home, the restored Fabyan Dutch windmill and a Frank Lloyd Wright house purchased by a Challenge Co. president. Activities also included an ice cream social, windmill trivia contest and comments by keynote speaker Helen Walter, editor of The Windmill Journal of Australia and New Zealand. FC 

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