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Steam Shows: RVing Weekends at Antique Power and Old Engine Shows

Steam shows, threshing bees, engine shows, and old time power shows are some of our favorite events to attend while RVing. There are numerous old time demonstrations and farm collector shows around the country. Many years ago, Coleen and I started in Georgia, and worked north and then west, going to shows. We went to a different antique farm equipment show almost every weekend, from April through October. Here are some of the highlights and pictures of some we went to this year. October.

Steam Shows and Farm Equipment Shows this Year

This year we had the chance to go to several old-time power shows. Our late summer and fall RV travels took us through Iowa, Illinois, and Kentucky farm country. All the shows were good -- and each one was different from the others.

Albert City Threshermen and Collectors Show -- Albert City, Iowa

The Albert City Threshermen and Collectors Show celebrated 175 years of Case brand equipment. It was a momentous celebration of all that is Case, with two international and five regional Case collector clubs taking part. There were automobiles made by Case! And, gas tractors, steam engines, and all sorts of other equipment. I especially enjoyed the big cross motor tractors and the steamroller.

Case Tractor at the Albert City Threshermen and Collectors ShowCase Tractor in the Parade at the Albert City Threshermen and Collectors Show, Albert City, IA

One exhibit was "Experience the Evolution." It showed, with actual equipment, the evolution of farming. It started with horses; moved on to steam traction engines; then to the first tractors and through a series of newer tractors; to today’s huge Quad Track tractor. Each piece was actually working the ground, as it would have in its original era.

I also enjoyed the horse powered well-drilling demonstration.

This was a very busy show, with many things going on at the same time.

The Albert City Threshermen and Collectors Show has a camping area to stay in during the show. It is in a nice grove of trees, across the road from the show grounds. There are no RV hook ups, but there is a bathhouse with showers.

Antique Acres Old Time Power Show -- Cedar Falls, Iowa

The Antique Acres Old Time Power Show featured Ferguson equipment and construction equipment. Ferguson’s main claim to fame was the three-point hitch system, which the majority of tractors produced today still use.

Bantam Excavator at the Antique Acres Old Time Power Show, Cedar Falls, IowaAn Old Bantam Excavator at Work the Antique Acres Old Time Power Show, Cedar Falls, Iowa

I saw a rare Ferguson tractor-mounted baler. Apparently, it didn’t work very well and they didn't make very many. It was an interesting concept, and something I hadn’t seen before this show.

There were dozers, pull-type road graders, a cable excavator, and a cable scraper. They dug and tore up the ground, demonstrating how they moved dirt in days past. By the end of the weekend, the ground put back, smoother than a plowed field.

If you go to this show, you need to watch the anvil shoot. George, the blacksmith, puts on a good show.

We stayed in the Antique Acres Campground, on the show property. There is electricity, with a dump station and water available. They keep the campground open to the public through the summer months.

Old Threshers Reunion -- Mount Pleasant, Iowa

The Old Threshers Reunion, hosted by the Midwest Old Settlers and Threshers Association, is what many call “the Mount Pleasant steam show.” It is one of the largest steam shows in the country. They had about 80 steam engines registered at this year’s show. There is a steam railroad, circling the grounds, with two steam engines each pulling several cars. One building is full of large stationary steam engines

Harrison Steam Traction Engine, Mt Pleasant, IAThis Harrison Steam Traction Engine is One of many at the Old Threshers Reunion in Mount Pleasant, IA

There is much more to this show than steam. There were horses working; old cars and trucks; and engines and tractors of every color and size. There is a large print shop and several museums. Since I once worked in the water industry, I was especially impressed by the enormous Allis Chalmers, Corliss powered, water pump. 

The show grounds include a huge campground. There are over 950 RV spaces with electricity, and lots more available without electricity. An old-time electric trolley system goes through the campground. Ground trains also transport people to where ever they need to go through the rest of grounds.

With your entrance fee, you get admission to the nightly concerts. The one night we sat in the outdoor bleachers, listening to Leroy Van Dyke, Moe Bandy, Rex Allen, Jr. and David Frizzel sing country songs. Sitting there, with my arm around Coleen, under the stars, with the American flag waving in the breeze behind the stage, listening to old country songs, sung by some of the great country stars, in the heartland of America, made me feel truly blessed to be an American.

Southern Illinois Antique Power Club Antique Power Days -- Salem, Illinois

The Southern Illinois Antique Power Club Antique Power Days show starts on Thursday, with an auction. There were all sorts of farm related items. There were items in price ranges from a dollar a box full on up. I only spent $10.00, but had a good time, as the auctioneer was fast paced and entertaining. I really enjoyed watching him and the crowd.

Tractor Pull at Southern Illinois Antique Power Club Antique Power Days, Salem, ILThis Old John Deere Competes at the Tractor Pull at Southern Illinois Antique Power Club Antique Power Days, Salem, Illinois

When I was growing up, I saw very few Massey Ferguson tractors and had hardly heard of Massey Harris. But at this show, these were the featured brands. I got to see Masseys from the early models up to some what would be considered somewhat modern.

This show had a large flea market area. There was everything from fine antiques to “as seen on TV items,” and a lot of tools and usable items.

I went to several tractor pulls. There were lawn tractor pulls for fun. In the evening, there was a pull sanctioned by the Illinois Hot Farm Stock Pullers Association. There was a lot of bellowing smoke, noise, and excitement.

The show is on a fairgrounds with RV sites, some full hook up sites, and some with only electric. Camping at the show is by free will offering.

Jessamine County Antique Farm Equipment Annual Show -- Nicholasville, Kentucky

The Jessamine County Antique Farm Equipment Annual Show is mainly a tractor show, with some small engines. There were some gristmills, producing some of the nicest corn meal I have ever seen ground at a show.

Grist Mill, Jessamine County Antique Farm Equipment Annual Show, Nicholasville, KYThis Grist Mill Ground Corn at the Jessamine County Antique Farm Equipment Annual Show, Nicholasville, KY

There was a silent auction, from which I got three industrial quality electric drills. Coleen was successful at the live dessert auction -- I won’t tell you how much she spent, but the club raised over $900.00, and she helped.

The food was particular good there. We had some of the best ham we’ve ever eaten. We also had old fashion corn cakes, made with corn meal freshly ground that day.

Everyone was especially friendly and accommodating. They really appreciated us coming out to their show. They gave us a plaque for being the exhibitor coming the farthest distance.

Camping at the Jessamine County Antique Farm Equipment Annual Show was free, and included electricity.

Old Time Kitchen, Mt Pleasant, IAAn Old Time Kitchen Display at the Old Threshers Reunion at Mt. Pleasant, IA

These are my highlights of the shows. Each show had a lot more than I’ve mentioned. They are usually put on by good farm people, who want to keep the history of farming alive. Some are big, some are small, but all are different, and we enjoyed them all.


Editor's note: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article. We both enjoy going to these steam shows and antique power events, but Bob especially likes them. Living and traveling in an RV makes it practical for us to attend them in various states across the USA. Many of them include quilt displays, antique and collectable toy displays, and additional exhibits and demonstrations that go beyond tractors and farm machinery.

More of Bob's RV life an travel articles.

Go to the RV Life and Travel home page to find more articles about RVs, RV camping, and full-time RVing.

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