The first annual meet of the recently organized Williams Grove Steam Engine Association sparked a tremendous revival of Central Pennsylvania's famous Granger's Picnic at the old grove near Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
Attracted by a program of steam traction engine operated threshing outfits, sawmill, shingle mill, log jumping, Baker fan and teeter-totter, more than 100,000 spectators crowded the spacious grounds during the week long show. This was more than triple the attendance of last year's Granger's Picnic and was one of the largest crowds ever to visit the grove, according to Roy E. Richwine, Jr., who arranged for the big steam show in cooperation with Ralph Hull, of Enola, Pa., President of the steam group.
For a week in advance of the event a group of hard working members transported and set up all the equipment necessary, some days toiling until late at night to complete the big task. This group was headed by William Strayer and William King, both of Dillsburg, Pa., and supervised by Mr. Richwine and Mr. Hull. Another group with Samuel Osborne, Edward Yeager and Morris Schoffner, assisted in arranging a program of events and setting up supplementary displays of antique farm equipment and household accessories.
Old time farm meals were served to the public by the Franklin town Fire Company Auxiliary, but association workers ate their meals in a typical old farmhouse kitchen, set up in a tent by Osborne and Yeager. Cooking was by Mrs. Yeager assisted by her husband and Paul G. Keller, ex-army cook, who also helped on the set-up crew. A number of members stayed at the grove for the entire period of time, sleeping in the various tents on the grounds.
The opening event of the week was a large antique auto show Sunday, August 30, which attracted large crowds an helped spread the word about the steam exhibit. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw the completion of the setting up of the displays and individual operation of engines. Thursday an old-time horse and buggy show was featured in addition to an extensive program of steam events. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Labor Day were the big steam days, with throngs crowding every available inch of space.
One of the big attractions was a 'hay ride' behind one of the big engines. Others, of course, included the operation of the shingle and saw mills and the grand parades. A number of model traction and stationary steam engines were on exhibit and operating in addition to more than a dozen different makes of old gasoline engines.
Several Oil-Pull tractors owned by President Hull, an old Frick owned by Morris Schoffner, plus a number of others including an ancient International also drew their share of attention, as did a pulling contest between a steamer and an Oil-Pull, in which the steamer emerged victorious.
Supplementing the old time equipment was a separate display of modern farm tractors and machinery.
Owing to the very short time between the closing of the Williams Grove show and the deadline for copy it was impossible to include all the details and give proper credit to all those who unselfishly gave of their time and money to make this first show the huge success that it was. If possible, additional information will be published in the next issue of the IRON-MEN ALBUM.