Indiana State Fair Pioneer Show Preserves American Agricultural Heritage

| May/June 1983

Exec. Secy.Purdue Agricultural Alumni Assoc. West Lafayette, Indiana 47907

Two wonderful artifacts of the past rest in quiet repose Davis Sullivan of Emporia, Ind. and his beautiful Case engine. Both are well into their eighties.

As a boy, growing up on a farm in Eastern Indiana in the forties, I can remember longing to hear just one steam engine whistle calling up another load of bundles. Or wouldn't it be wonderful, just one more time, to experience the pleasant sway of the old hay wagon as it slowly made its way to the barn. Well, there wasn't much chance of either of those happening. The farmer had just recently progressed beyond those dangerous tasks, and he had no desire to bring them back.

Nowadays, however, the summer air is filled with the scream of the steam engine whistle, the pop and snort of the old tractor, and the whir, click, and snap of all kinds of old time practices once so prevalent on American farms. As the 'Golden Age' of American agriculture slips into the past, rural people, young and old, realize that the preservation of the equipment and the methods of a day gone by is important if we are to fully appreciate the excellence of the modern farmer and his produce.

The Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association, a service organization of professional agriculturalists, realized the importance of our heritage, and inaugurated a Pioneer Farm Show at the Indiana State Fair. With a meager collection of antiques and a few people who knew anything about them, we began. The first year, 1961, we were amazed when over 40,000 people visited our little exhibit. From that point, we have grown to several thousand excellent artifacts, dozens of demonstrations, and over a quarter million visitors during the twelve day run of the Indiana State Fair. As a matter of fact, the Pioneer Farm Show has become the most popular attraction on the State Fairgrounds.

The re-enactment of the old farm skills such as shocking wheat is an important part of the Pioneer Farm Show. Please note that there are very few old people in this picture. Who says the young aren't interested in agricultural tradition?