Mr. Frank Miller of La Cross and his 1923 40-62 Huber that he has restored.
Forty-five thousand persons in one day, and a total of 150,000 for nine days of show staged by the Williams Grove Steam Engine Association was the astonishing record set for the second annual exhibit of the group before and over the Labor Day weekend.
Organized in March 1959, the association grew amazingly and was able to put on its first show over Labor Day of that year in connection with the famous Grangers Picnic at Williams Grove, Pa. Interest in the activity was evidenced by the late Roy E. Richwine, Sr. and his son Roy E., Jr. who cooperated in the staging of the exhibit.
Again this year the senior Mr. Richwine indicated his faith in the project by approving the erection of a permanent building to be operated by the association on the fairgrounds. This structure was in the course of construction at the time of Mr. Richwine's sudden death. It was finished under the direction of his son who labored long hours to assure its use during the show.
A total of 21 steam traction engines of many makes and sizes; 5 portable engines, one steam roller and one steam shovel participated in the program of activities which included threshing grain, running sawmill, shinglemill, stone crusher, and in pulling contests, plus teeter-totter balancing. There were also 7 model steam traction engines, several of which had just been completed before the show, which drew an immense amount of attention. A fine display of miniature steam engines, plus models of old-time farm equipment, were an added attraction.
Special programs during the nine days of the show included an 'Antique Car Day' the first Sunday and a 'Horse and Buggy Day' the second Sunday. In between the permanently-placed sawmill was in operation as was the shingle mill, stone crusher, steam shovel and at least two of the six fully equipped threshing rigs on the grounds. Seven acres of grain was threshed as a part of the program.
Crowds milled through the partially completed museum building which was loaded with displays and housed a trading post operated by Maurice Shoffner and a blacksmith shop run by Sam Osborne, who shoed horses as hundreds looked on. Old time horse-drawn vehicles of all descriptions, mostly owned by Sam Osborne and Ed Yeager, were on display and many used in the 'Horse and Buggy Day' program which featured over 150 head of horses plus exhibits by several riding clubs. The show was managed by Ed Yeager and Leo Zeigler.
Riding clubs taking part in the show included Forry's Champion Drill Team, the Whitehorse Club, the Bonnybrook Club and a 4-H Club.
One of the main attractions on the grounds was Ed Yeager's antique kitchen and dining tent, where meals were prepared and served to association members in the old-time manner. Yeager, assisted by Paul G. Keller and a number of wives of association members, boiled and sold apple butter on the site and prepared appetizing meals on an old slab wood cook stove.
A total of 65 single cylinder gas engines of all makes and sizes took a popular place on the program as well as the Baker Pan and Dynamotor, both of which put the big steam engines to test.
Association members headed by President Ralph Hull and Roy E. Richwine, Jr. worked long hard hours to set up, run and dismantle the show. Especially active were Tobey Bell, Master Mechanic; Bill King, Chief Engineer; George Fawber, Secretary Treasurer; Leroy Shugart, Membership Secretary, plus many others like Ed Yeager, Maurice Shoffner, Paul Keller, Bill Strayer, Bill Berkheimer, and Bill Fisher. These were assisted on a part-time basis by a large segment of the membership.
Outstanding assistance in the kitchen was given by wives of members including Mrs. William Strayer, Mrs. Annie Yeager, Mrs. David Shearer, Mrs. Mary Beck, Mrs. Edna Rouzer and 'Grandma' Bankert.
Again the steam-drawn hayride was the most popular attraction on the grounds, followed closely by the pony ride. The big parades of equipment also drew the crowds and cedar shingles were sold almost as fast as they could be made.
All in all the event was one of the outstanding ones of its kind in the state and already plans for a bigger and better show next year are in the making.