July 8th, 1972, opened the second annual show of the Central Kentucky Steam & Gas Engine Association, Inc., an organization of over 100 members from counties in and around central Kentucky. Throughout the 2 day period, over 4,000 people attended and enjoyed the activities.
I talked to several people who had traveled from as far as Chicago and the New England states of the north; and from as far south as the Carolinas and Georgia.
Paris, the site of the show, is located in the heart of the Kentucky bluegrass country, the home of thoroughbred horses and mint juleps. Paris is approximately 20 miles north of Lexington, Kentucky, and 80 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio. Paris is easily reached from interstates 75 and 64, and is centered in the heart of some of Kentucky's finest traditional settings. Surrounding Paris is Claiborne Farm the largest horse breeding farm in the world. Architectural enthusiasts can see some of the more elaborate Kentucky homes constructed in the old southern tradition and dating back to pre-Civil War times. Cane Ridge meeting house, built in 1791, and the scene of one of the great religious revivals in early U.S. history, is about a 15 minute drive from the show grounds. Kentucky's history is abundant at every turn of the road, and the annual show is an attempt to bring a part of that history and tradition alive for everyone to enjoy.
Anyone interested in the aspects of farming and life in general dating from the turn of the century through the 1970's was fascinated by the exhibits on display. Farming equipment of all sizes, makes, and models were not only on stationary display, but were set up to do the work for which they were originally designed.
One power source which claimed the interest of the crowds was the display of gasoline engines. The engines ranged from a horsepower Vim that might have been used to run a washing machine or a corn sheller; up to the huge 32 horsepower Fairbanks Morse that was found in Orangeburg, Kentucky. However, the large display of gasoline engines was only one type of equipment to be seen.
One of the most interesting exhibits was the display of antique tractors. All the tractors to be seen were restored to the exact specifications as when they were manufactured and distributed in the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. Many companies were represented in restored machinery exhibited by members of the association. John Deere, Waterloo Boy, Farmall, International, Minneapolis, Case and Titan were the main makes represented. All of these tractors were put to work in tractor pulls, woven wire fencing, and with the threshing machines that kept busy over the weekend. The opportunity to see these machines at work, some on steel and some on rubber wheels, was far more interesting when the observer realized the 40 or 50 years ago these same tractors were doing this same work.
A tractor is a powerful and useful machine, but they were out-ranked in power by the 4 big steam engines at the show. A Baker, Case, Advance Rumley and Keck-Gonnerman were on hand for all to see, ride, and enjoy. Antique farming displays were the primary interest of the show, but aside from these, there were displays of other related machines and implements.
Have you ever seen a shingle mill? You would have seen one at the show last year cutting cedar shingles. The shingle mill was operated by a 1936 John Deere tractor and others of similar vintage, joined to the mill by a pulley belt. The wood for the mill was supplied by an old sawmill that cut logs into boards of various sizes and thicknesses. Brooms were made on an old hand operated broom-making machine. An old washing machine made almost entirely of wood was a novelty that pointed out the advancement of the housewife from those days to these. One of the main attractions was a 1915 Wurlitzer band organ which gave the observer the opportunity to watch the intricate workings of the machine's insides and wonder just how all this produced the enjoyable music heard by all.
If you enjoy antique cars, you could have spent your time looking over the more than 40 Model A's, T's, and later model cars. These cars were judged and trophies were awarded to the deserving winner.
Antiques, however, didn't take up the entire show. Modern farm equipment was displayed by Case, John Deere, International and Ford. These machines were available for inspection and driving.
No one enjoying the show suffered from a lack of refreshments of food. All of the everyday refreshments were provided, plus the added extra of homemade ice cream. The Paris Stockyards, where the show is held each year, has an excellent restaurant which was open from early morning till late night for the convenience of exhibitors and visitors.
Camping and restroom facilities were available for everyone, and local motels in Paris and Millersburg provided accommodations for those without campers.
The 1972 show, which contributed greatly to Paris being named an All-Kentucky City, was quite an enjoyable success, but the 1973 show, to be held July 6, 7, and 8th, promises to attract even more exhibitors and spectators.
President Ted Wiseman, and Vice-President Paul Crump, and all the members of the Central Kentucky Steam & Gas Engine Association, Inc., and their families hope you will be able to relive with them farming and living as it was ten years ago.