One of the finest agricultural educational programs in our area started out on a bright, beautiful morning on July 1. That was the first day of the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club's Big Show this year.
While this is a big show with antique farm and home equipment of many different kinds, what makes it even more interesting and unique is the Agricultural Heritage Museum. This building itself, with all the displays, was well worth a visitor's trip to the show. But it is only the beginning of what one could see at this event.
Since I knew the engine club served a good breakfast, I went down early to enjoy the food and look around while it was still cool. The Engine Club grounds were beautiful and well-kept in spite of all the rain this year.
I joined a table where several of the directors of the organization were visiting about the many displays and plans for various activities. There were a few "bugs" to iron out, which goes with a show this size handling several thousand people. While the load of holding this event often falls on too few people, the group at the table was working well together to get the job done.
One of the first places I wanted to go was the Agricultural Heritage Museum because I had some idea of the displays in that building.
On the way back to the museum, I walked past the huge gasoline engines on display. Several were operating. They were well restored and I enjoyed the "whoosh, whoosh" of those single-cylinder engines. Their owners were obviously intently interested in keeping these old engines in good working order.
Before I got to the museum, I found a neat display of antique milk cooling and handling equipment, provided by a group from Cochranton, Pa. This was a good educational display that demonstrated the progress we have made in producing and marketing quality milk and dairy products. And the group was having fun telling about the equipment
As I walked into the museum, I was met by Dave Cover, an active board member from Fowler. He had several pieces of equipment displayed in the building and was doing a good job of explaining the history of the farm machinery to visitors.
Early farm equipment from the time farmers were doing much of the work by hand was on display. Then they had a progression of equipment up to more modern times. Planting and harvesting equipment from old to more modern gave an interesting picture of how one farmer today can feed 150 or more people. Compare this to feeding just three or four back in the mid-1800s.
Farming from the 1800s up to the early 1920s, when tractors and more efficient farm machinery were invented, was an occupation based on much manual labor. With the agricultural revolution and use of more technology, farmers made a huge breakthrough in what they could produce.
So take advantage of the next show the engine club holds and visit the museum. Or if you have a group that would like to visit, contact one of the directors. The group's website is ashtabulaantiqueengineclub.com.
My visit was just the beginning of what you could see and do at this show. Watch for the dates of the fall show, spring gas-up and next year's Big Show and visit this interesting and educational display.
Compliments go to the Antique Engine Club for the fine job they do in preserving our agricultural heritage and in telling the interesting history of farming.
Parker is retired from Ohio State University and is an independent agricultural writer and works with the local Farm Bureau Board.