Home on the Range: Meriden Summer Show

Meriden Antique Engine and Threshers Assn. showground expansion brings old-time Kansas village to life.


| October 2017



building

The general store at the Meriden Antique Engine & Threshers Assn. grounds. The club’s monthly meetings are held in the general store. During the winter, an antique wood stove heats the space.

Photo by Leslie C. McManus

One of the fastest growing summer family destinations in the Midwest. When Kevin Kirkwood used that phrase to describe the Meriden (Kansas) Antique Engine & Threshers Assn. (MAETA) summer show, I struggled to keep my eyebrows in place. But after spending a day at the show, there was no doubt in my mind that Kevin nailed it: The Meriden show delivered on every count.

Fastest growing – and still growing

Founded in 1977, the Meriden club started out on 8-1/2 acres along K-4 Highway, about 1 mile northeast of Meriden (and about 10 miles northeast of Kansas’ capital city of Topeka).

For decades, show displays, demonstrations, a re-created village, tractor pulls, parking, concessions, vendors and basic facilities were set up cheek to jowl in a very small space. And everybody made it work. But when opportunity knocked in 2014, the club was ready.

“We were at the point where we knew we needed to do something,” says MAETA President Jess Noll. When 32 adjacent acres became available, the club and the community rallied. “Money was a big factor,” he admits, “but we came up with a phenomenal down payment.” In short, club members and supporters provided about $35,000 toward the $100,000 purchase price.

It’s not a big operation – the Meriden club has 80 to 90 paying members – but it’s a strong one. “Attendance at our monthly meetings is increasing,” says Jess, MAETA president since 2011. The average age is deep into the 60s and there aren’t many members in their 40s, but come show time, everything falls neatly in place. “Some of our older members are extremely dedicated to making this succeed,” Kevin adds. “And that dedication keeps us all going.”

Using every bit of it

At the summer show in July, cottonwood seeds drifted lazily on a wisp of a breeze. That was the only laziness on display. Threshing and baling demonstrations took place daily, lumber was being cut at the Thick and Thin Sawmill, a fully operational flourmill was open for business, a smithy or two were clanging away in the blacksmith shop, and displays of engines and tractors sprouted around the grounds.