In order to find out what kind of a year 1980 was for shows around the country, we made a few calls and collected some letters to give us an idea. The two big enemies of good attendance, rain and the faltering economy, took a toll on some shows, while others had no problems. Here is a sampling of what we learned......
We learned from two shows which were brand new in 1980. The Lambton Heritage Museum in Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada, which opened in 1978 held its first show this year. Activities included pioneer crafts, antique autos and gasoline engines, and operation of a traction engine. Among the craftsmen were a blacksmith, stained glassworker and spinners, weavers and harness makers. The one traction engine at the show, a 1918 George White steam engine idled a George White threshing machine. Attendance was good enough that another show is planned for this year!
Also new last year was the Belltown Antique Car Club & Steam Show in Belltown, Connecticut. Even though the club was plagued with late advertising and misty weather, 1400 people attended the show. This was the first year for engines to be shown with the car parts show that is traditionally held. Larry Hall, who spoke with us, has a collection of caliopes, plus 75 engines. They are looking for a new location for 1981.
Edwin Bredemeier wrote to us on the Albany Jubilee in Sabetha, Kansas, which was held on October 4 and 5.
'Greetings from hot and dry midwest and report on postponed Albany Jubilee. 'How does a postponed show turn out?' everyone asks. Good is my decision. Two nice days even though we needed rain. The gas engine alley was as big or bigger than in '79. Had a scale model steamer hooked up to a scale model wood saw with a special blade to cut coasters from Hedge Red Cedar and Walnut wood 3-4 inches in diameter.
'Carl Meier of Dubois was on the coal shovel and throttle of the Port Huron Compound doing its thing on the big Yellow Fellow thresher but he relinquished the belt a few times to the 40 x 80 Avery tractor.
'The tractor display boys dug up a plow and plowed the two small fields for the museum. They are going to get another plow for 1981 to pull two plows behind the 28 x 50 Hart Parr.
'Abels of Clay Center, Kansas had their shingle saw operating for souvenir shingles for the crowd. The flea market was as large as 1979 and as big a variety of merchandise.
'The Museum suffered a loss about four weeks before the show. Lightning struck their Depot and it burned to the ground with all of its contents. Plans are to find another depot to replace the loss.
'Old cars were well represented. The two outstanding ones, I think were the early IHC auto buggy and a Hudson 1/2 ton pickup. They looked like new and ran as well. There were several other outstanding cars in the parade with the usual run of nicely restored units.
'The board of directors would appreciate finding a saw mill for the shows. They also decided to postpone the show, which was scheduled for the last two weeks of July to the October date.'
Central Florida Gas and Steam Show reported their biggest year ever, with an attendance of probably 2,000definitely up from last year. Keith Oderkirk told us that 200 members of the Flywheelers Club came for a big dinner on Sunday. About 30 people exhibited engines, and the museum was open. The museum is in a building 100' x 30' and contains a washing machine, sewing machine, old engines, a 1902 Cadillac and a 1908 Sears Roebuck car. There is also a sparkplug and wrench collection.
Paul Crow wrote from Charleroi, Pennsylvania for the Tri-State Historical Steam Engine Association and said the show on September 19-20 was very successful. Ed Weston wrote to say that the Wisconsin Steam Antique Engine Club Show in August 9-10 was 'a very successful show with good weather and the biggest crowd we've ever had.'
Bert Schwing hammer reported that the Albany Pioneer Days in Albany, Minnesota, (September 12-14) was down in attendance from 1979 to about 5,000. Apparently the culprits were rain and mud. Special events included a log sawing contest and the first opening of a log house which is partially furnished and restored. A queen was crowned for the second year this is a very popular event. This year's queen is a former teacher who takes care of the restored school house on the museum grounds. Each year, the association tries to add a building and there are now about 12 buildings on the grounds.
The North Central Illinois Steam Power Show was held again in 1980 at Hedtke's Hickory Oaks Farm. There were three good days and one day of rain. Attendance was about 6,000 people from 23 different states and some foreign countries. Special events included disking the ground with horses, plowing with engines and exhibition of a 110 HP Case steam engine. Also in operation was a 12 HP threshing hitch, an 1889 Case model, powered by 12 draught horses in a circle.
A museum on the property houses 22 threshers, 5 engines and 9 gas tractors, plus various implements in a 60' x 144' building. A frontier village is going up and now includes a harness shop, model T shop and blacksmith and woodworking shops. This year will be George Hedtke's 25th year in steam shows so the club is planning more special events.
Attendance at the American Thresherman Association Show in Pinckneyville, Illinois was down a little bit last year because of the very hot weather and slow economy. Probably between 15,000 and 18,000 people attended the show, which was held August 14-17. The program was the same as in the pastplowing with a 12 bottom plow and standard activities all day. On three nights they had championship tractor pulls and on Sunday an antique tractor show. The museum, which used to be open on weekends and special occasions is now open only during the show.
One of our representatives, June Merrow, wrote us about the Antique Engine and Tractor Association Show in Geneseo, Illinois, held on September 13-14:
'I guess we've ended our year of threshing shows as of yesterday and I am not sure whether I'm glad or not. Anyway it ended on a happy note. It was the first show of the season that got through the entire show without rain at least one day. I believe everyone in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa at least got rain. Five of our nearby county fairs even cancelled part of their scheduled days. One had only the livestock judging. We set up our model saw mills at one the first part of September and had to carry it out to the blacktop drive piece by piece through nearly knee deep water.'
We'd like to thank the people who took the time to speak with us or write about their shows. Unfortunately, no pictures arrived before our deadline, but we hope to have some by next issue. Let's also hope that there is no rain during shows in 1981 and that the economy has taken a happy upturn by summer!