Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania 17022
Are steam engine fairs just for country folk? Not on your tintype. The popularity of these shows seem to be picking up steam, even among the big city boys.
The New York Sunday News of July 11, last year, had an article written by Edwin Field telling readers what they could expect to see at the July 24 and 25 Spring Grove Steam Show.
This 10th Annual affair was held at the Charles Hitchcock Farm in New York's Cayuga County at Levanna, on Route 90 near Cayuga Lake, between Union Springs and Aurora.
Mr. Hitchcock was good enough to send a letter recently to Iron-Men editor, Gerald Lestz, in which he described the show.
Hitchcock says the event is unique for the area. It is held on a farm and is an noncommercial as it can be made. If a visitor doesn't want to spend a cent, he needn't. Donations are accepted, of course.
Hitchcock goes on to say:
'Everything is done with horses, old gas engines and steam. In other words, our grain for threshing is not brought in on a truck, it is brought in from the field with horses, on a bundle wagon. The threshed grain then goes into an old grain wagon box also hauled with horses.
'Another example, the stone crusher powered with steam elevates the crushed stones into a dump wagon which the horses then haul and dump in the driveway. They are then leveled with a horse-drawn road grader and finally rolled with a horse-drawn roller.
'We try as hard as we can to keep modernization out of the show.'
Hitchcock says he intended last year's event to be the last, but since attendance was the biggest ever, the event will be seen again this year. It is scheduled for July 23 and 24.
In Fields' Sunday News article he tells of an old wheat thresher, a sawmill, stone crushers and straw pressers all powered by steam. He tells of a tiny train and a little boat giving rides to youngsters. He talks about a calliope playing 'tunes of yesteryear' as young and old are transported into the past when times were simple and songs had tunes and there was always 'something to do.'
Fields also writes of flea market booths, the real jewel boxes of nostalgia where toys and books and kitchen items are sold. Some, we suspect, are taken home only to show up again somewhere at another fair.
In the September-October issue of The Iron-Men Album last year, a letter from Lewis A. Wright, of R. D. 2, Cornland, New York, has this to say about visiting steam shows:
'We have attended them as far south as South Carolina and as far west as Iowa, but the best one that we have seen is right here near home and we never miss it. It is the Spring Grove Show, put on by Mr. Charles Hitchcock at Levanna, New York. Though not by any means the largest, it is the most complete and varied show that we have ever seen. You name it, they have it and they do it.'
The Auburn, New York, Sunday paper, 'The Citizen,' covered last year's event. Reporters, Walter Rewald and Steve Taylor, noted that visitors came from far and near. They wrote that 1,000 chicken barbecues were served, with proceeds benefiting the Aurora Volunteer Fire Department.
We imagine that Mr. Fields' article brought many an urban dweller to the fair, some from nostalgia, some from curiosity, some perhaps for just a day in the country.
Many a citizen of the nation's cities has roots on the farm. Indeed, don't we all, for before there were cities, there were farms.
After reading Mr. Hitchcock's letter and Mr. Wright's endorsement and 'The Citizen' article, we might just run up to the Spring Grove Steam Show ourselves this summer during vacation.