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Calendar >  Fall Antique Engine and Tractor Show

Fall Antique Engine and Tractor Show

By   /  October 24, 2016  /  No Comments


Pat Murphy

Pat Murphy….This past Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 22 & 23), the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum (AGSEM) held a second weekend of their nationally attended tractor show. Tractors and tractor enthusiasts filled the 55 acre historical museum property to view some very old tractors and steam engines.

As you entered the grounds, North San Diego County Young Marines were collecting the parking fees and directing you to a parking place. After parking and walking past the ticket booth we saw old tractors that were sitting on the left side of the road. These tractors had signs with big yellow stars and writing that told what movies they had been it and with which Hollywood star. Continuing past these famous antiques we encountered Jake Williams up top of a large steam tractor. He showed us the boiler and told us he had been a steam engine operator for 21 years. He started at age 15 and also told us that for every hour he runs the steam engine there are 8 hours of maintenance.

The highlight of this event was a daily parade that meandered through two rows of bleachers filled with spectators of all ages. Announcer Larry Thompson has been at the microphone describing the tractors going on thirty years. Thompson’s spotter, David Schnell, was only here for the second time. The Parade was led, as usual, by the North San Diego County Young Marines. The youth group meets at the AGSEM and helps the museum conduct the many events held there. The Young Marines marched smartly in front of the long parade line that consisted mainly of a wide variety of tractors. Some of the tractors are only seen at this event. Sprinkled in between the tractors were some old model A and Model T automobiles. The tractors came in many sizes from 3 feet long and 2 feet high to 30 feet long and 12 feet high.

photos by Philippe Carre   www.bountyphotogrphie.com

When the Young Marines came abreast of the announcing stand in the middle of the parade route, they “presented the colors” (the flag of the United States) for a rendition of our National Anthem. There must not have been any Professional Football players around because everyone stood while the National Anthem was being sung. Hats were removed from heads and hands were placed over hearts in respect for the symbol of our freedom.

This particular Saturday, the Young Marines had another reason to stand tall. Saturday, Oct.22 was proclaimed “North San Diego County Young Marines Day in The City of Vista”. Signed by Mayor Ritter and all the City Council members, the proclamation recognized the hard and inspiration work the group does in our community. The wording in the document mentions over 7,000 hours of support to the community and to veterans but I have it on good authority that these young men and women are on track to put that mark over 10,000 hours by the end of the year. Members of the Young marines have also accumulated over 550 hours with their “Drug Resistance Training”.

Following behind the sharp looking Young Marines were hay wagons full of spectators being pulled by tractors and followed by more tractors and old cars. Familiar names like John Deere, Farmall, International Harvester, Ford, Case and Caterpillar shared the concourse with Titan, Russell, Massey Harris, Cletrac, Fairbanks-Morse, Minneapolis, and Allis-Chalmers. They were powered by gas, diesel and steam. Cultivators, Balers, Mowers, Threshers, and a Compactor fascinated young and old alike. Some appeared brand new and others looked like escapees from a Mad Max movie. 1920’s Model T’s, 1930’s model A’s (including one old truck that even the cab was wooden), and a Horseless Carriage also paraded by to collect oohs and aahs from the crowd.

School Marm Miss Whimplewart, from the Museum’s School of Times Past, led some students (recruited from the attendees) down the parade route with strict discipline and some sharp scolding. One of the boys was wearing a dunce hat, a tall pointed hat that was once used as an article of discipline in schools. Another unfortunate lad was spotted hiding behind the announcer’s stand and was promptly seized by an ear and escorted out to join his “class mates”. The older folks in the bleachers were amused but the younger ones appeared to wonder the meaning of this charade. The School Marm is historically portrayed by a real educator, Connie Morton who recently celebrated her 80th birthday.

Representing another profession from the past, Blacksmith Jim Parker, was showing Bob Taylor how to harden a steel tip. Taylor, a computer programmer from L.A., had been reading about the process because he is interested in metal working. Jim buried the end of the steel rod into the glowing embers until the metal was glowing brighter than the coal nuggets.  He held the fiery red rod up to show us and to let it cool before continuing the hardening process. As I was leaving the area to watch the parade, Parker was telling Taylor about the blacksmithing classes that are held at the AGSEM.

Dwight Reed has been a gun toting Deputy Marshall at the Tractor Show for 6 years. He entertains the crowds with skits that draw laughs and boos. This past Saturday he recruited a young girl to be his foil in such a skit. As a very large steam tractor with big metal wheels came down the road in from of the parade stands, the Marshall gave a slight hand signal to Jocelin who was standing nearby with a bicycle. The pretty young lady started to cross the road in front of the big tractor. The Marshall stopped her progress by firing his pistol into the air. She stopped and raised her hands causing the bike to fall over. The Marshall motioned her to the side and he pretended to lecture her about safety as the tractor steamed closer and closed. Audience members started shouting out warnings but blasts from the steam whistle drown out their cries. The big tractor rolled over the hapless bicycle as a big “Oh no!” washed over the stands like a tidal wave. Reed also drives the tractors at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.

Corn Husker kids Andrew and Troy were demonstrating how to manually grind corn off the cob in a hay strewn area that was part of a vast outdoor static display area. Their dad, Chris, told me that he had done the same thing when he was their age. He is third generation farm family and the boys are the 4th generation.

Jack’s Café volunteers like the Nevzil family from Simi Valley California were busily selling the delicious food and drink. The Nevzil family makes the 264 mile round trip several times a year to work in the café. The café has a good assortment of sandwiches, BBQ, Hotdogs and drinks. It’s all very tasty and cheerfully rendered at three large windows.

Vendors like the Princes from San Clemente make the trek with their unique wood made products such as wooden bowls, pen & pencil sets, and kaleidoscopes. The Princes greet potential customers with smiles and good conversation.

Model Train Engineers were showing off their impressive layout display in their 3,600 Sq, Ft. clubhouse building that is hidden way off in the Northwest side of the AGSEM. The club named, Short Track Railroad, joined the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum AGSEM in 2002. Club members Milt Perkins and George Bentley were on hand to show visitors around.

I was happy to see many people were wearing wide brimmed hats as they wandered around to enjoy all the attractions and displays. Since dealing with melanoma, I always wear my wide brimmed hat when I go outside.

This is the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum’s 40th year of presenting historical displays and events to the public. It is definitely one of the best family fun venues in Vista. The tractor is held over two weekends in June and two weekends in October. Other events and shows such as the Fiber Festival, The Rock & Gem show and the Civil War re-enactment, are held throughout the year.









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