Accompanied by travel partner and editor Leslie McManus, I ventured to Oakley, Mich., for the 37th annual Mid-Michigan Old Gas Tractor Assn. show August 18-21, 2011, hosting the Rumely Products Collectors Expo. When we walked on the grounds near the Baker Barn, the huge flywheels and distinctive rumble of the mighty machines made it feel like we were walking into “Jurassic Park“.
|Here are some of the prairie giants in front of the Baker Barn.|
According to Bill Koski, club board member, the Association uses 125 acres for the real working show. There is all kinds of activity going on throughout the event:
|The engine building|
The buildings house some awesome stuff to watch, like broom making, a handle mill, shingle making, drag sawing.
There are a lot of youths involved in the show. I watched some young men learning skills hands-on from areas like the tinsmith and the blacksmith.
Leslie and I were invited to ride and even try our hand at manning the wheels of an Aultman & Taylor and a Rumely.
You really “feel the power” when you are behind that wheel.
Now here’s some different kind of power. I also got to ride the pony cart with Dave Snyder!
Speaking of driving, the tractor pulls are a big draw and I heard someone say they get the younger kids started on kiddie tractor pulls, move them up to the garden tractor pulls and jump right into the “cult” of the big tractor pulls.
Estimates were about 30,000 people attended the show. There’s a flea market area, vendors, tractors & implements on display along with all the activity going on in the fields and buildings. There’s even a beer tent with a band, which draws a crowd on a hot afternoon.
It’s become kind of a tradition of mine to mention some favorite food concoction I discover on these trips, and this time I found the ultimate show food item. Jack’s BBQ offered a steaming baked potato with butter and cheese, topped with his smoked shredded BBQ pork and ultimately topped with sour cream. I won’t tell you how many I had that week!
The Mid-Michigan show is a successful event for the whole family to enjoy and the club supports and donates to several area charities. The volunteers connected to the show made us feel very welcome. We left on Saturday afternoon to catch our flights and heard we just missed a wind and rain storm that hit late afternoon. Sounded like a doozy but we were told they rallied quickly and the smoke of the tractor pull was still in the air that night! To learn more about the show, go to www.mmogta.org.
See you down the road.
P.S. A really cool story connected with the show – Leslie and I happened to drive by a farm near Chesaning on the way to the Mid-Michigan show with literally hundreds of old restored plows all lined up in rows, 457 to be exact! As we visited the owner, Elmer Schneider, we commented that he must get a lot of curious visitors and he said “Yes, as a matter of fact, I had a couple stop by yesterday from Louisiana.” He proceeded to retrieve the business card the couple had left and we noticed that on the back was a hand written recipe for homemade ice cream. We thought, “Aw, that poor guy, I bet he didn’t mean to give away his recipe and will be disappointed to have lost that.” Then Elmer turned over the card and when I saw the name I couldn’t believe it. I said, “I know that guy!” It was Steve and Mel Webre who are members of the ATIS group who I always meet with the next week at the Tri-State Gas Engine Show in Portland, Ind.! So I took a picture of the recipe with my phone (isn’t technology great!?) and I figured he’d be really surprised when I showed him the lost recipe at Portland. That next day at the show in Michigan, I happened to see Steve and Mel and told them, “Boy do I have a story for you!” They were very happy to have found their ice cream recipe and I was too, since the next week at the Portland show I got to eat a bowl of that ice cream made with Steve’s gas engine. It’s a small world!