The 2003 World's Expo of Antique Farm Equipment delivered the goods ... a world of tractors, gas and steam engines, pumps, combines, implements and memorabilia was on display at the three-day event. Held every other year at locations near Des Moines, Iowa, this year's show moved to McMillan Park at the Old Threshers Grounds in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.
'The land at Ankeny (Iowa) was sold,' Dave Cobler, an expo board member overseeing the show's John Deere exhibit, explains. 'So we couldn't go back there. But I feel like this is going to be a very good site for us. The facility is great, and the steam railroad, museums, good roads and grandstand all contribute to that. What comments I've heard have been very good.'
More than just a varied selection of exhibits, the Expo offers show-goers a full slate of seminars. This year's featured topics focused on safety and restoration themes, while entertainment included dancing, tractor games and pulls, live music and chainsaw carving demonstrations.
For many, the expo offers a chance to savor antique farm equipment's bigger picture ... it's not just a tractor or engine show. Max Folkerts of Allison, Iowa, displayed a Belle City corn picker as part of the show's Ferguson exhibit. 'People love that little picker,' Max says. 'Most of them haven't seen anything like it. It seems like that's what sets this show apart - people drag implements along with their displays, and that's what tells the whole story.'
Part of that story dates back nearly a century. Alan Buckert of Mt. Pleasant displayed and demonstrated a Model 5 Sandwich corn Sheller dating to 1910. The harmony of wood and iron creaking into motion as the vintage piece fired up stopped visitors in their tracks. The expo also offered a symphony of sound: Melinda Huisinga of Carlyle, Iowa, was one of several steam engine operators cruising the show grounds.
'I grew up at Mt. Pleasant,' she says, driving a half-scale, 65-hp Case. 'My dad was on the board of directors of the steam train, and my mother worked in one of the church food tents.'
Although she moved away from Mt. Pleasant, antique farm equipment still remains among her interests. Her son went to steam school as a youth, inspiring Melinda to do the same. Today, she and her husband own two steamers: a full-sized, 65-hp Case as well as the half-scale model. Her husband also owns a 1935 John Deere Model B.
For Melinda and others, Mt. Pleasant remains a magnet that attracts old iron and the people who love it. 'The families who previously owned both engines come to Mt. Pleasant to see them,' she adds.
For some, the expo offered the opportunity to promote their hobbies. Kevin Wake, Davis Junction, Ill., set up an extensive display of corn collectibles. As president of the Corn Items Collectors Association, he hoped to win over some converts during the event. 'What we're interested in is preserving history,' he says. Corn collectibles run the gamut from hand Sheller to metal signs, postcards to burlap bags, bullet pencils, memorabilia and more. 'Some of it can get pretty pricey,' Kevin adds, 'but a lot of things are affordable for the new collector.'
In the world of antique farm equipment, collections can be small ... and large. Ted Stein's collection of Mogul engines is both. The collection numbers just two pieces, a pair of 15-hp, side shaft Moguls weighing a total of 5 tons.
Just 118 of that model were produced from 1914 to 1918. Ted's are both 1914 engines: One was the first off the line and the other later that year. Interestingly, the serial number tag on one of the engines identifies it as a 12-hp engine. 'A man told me that the 15-hp engines weren't selling well. People thought they were too big,' Ted says. 'So, if you look real close, you can see where they rubbed off the '15 hp' and re-marked it with '12 hp'.'
The World's Expo is held every other year. That schedule, though somewhat unusual, works well, Cobler said. 'Some people would get bored with it if it was held every year. They get kind of 'showed out'. And this way, you have more time to work on restorations!' FC
- For more information about the World's Expo of Antique Farm Equipment, write P.O. Box 118, Coggon, IA 52218; call (319) 435-2512; on the Internet at www.tractorexpo.com; or e-mail: WorldsExpo@aol.com