I love the roar of a crowd – and the roar of the “engine” if you’re attending the 47th Annual Rally of the W.N.Y Gas & Steam Engine Association. I don’t think they worried too much in the early 1900’s about sound pollution. The noise is a kind of music to people who know their engines (like my husband) and if you ask, they’ll be able to tell you what kind of equipment is operating. The Steam Engine Rally had humble beginnings; a tiny budget and about a thousand visitors in 1967. But by 1976 they were in their current location. Since then the property has grown to 220 acres, complete with buildings and campgrounds (You need to become a member to camp). Engine enthusiasts wait all year long for this event that now boasts over 30,000 visitors.
If you’re like me, and only know steam engines from Steampunk Movies, you’ll appreciate all the other activities the show offers. There are the daily “pulls,” and when they talk about horse power – they mean real horses. There’s even a NYS Miniature Horse Pulling Association that gets into the act. (I enjoy watching the tiny 34 and 38 inch horses.) Of course, they do let the steam engine powered equipment show its stuff. There are countless “pull” categories where engines vie with other engines to show their superiority: tractors, superstock modified, superfarm, semi-antique, garden tractors, etc. This year the Rally is honoring Ford & Fordson engines, so I’m sure there will be plenty to see
Evenings and some afternoons there’s live music. I’m looking forward to the Niagara Frontier Fiddler’s Club on Sunday, September 8th, from 1-3 pm. Then I think I’ll stroll over to watch the steam powered saw mill do its thing. They are cutting their own lumber to use in buildings on the property. (Clever people, they buy logs for their demonstrations and create building materials to boot!) They’ve set up bleachers so visitors can watch the blade rotating at over 500 rotations per minute. I’m really curious to see if it makes the “barking” noise that I’ve heard about. Then I suspect my husband will want to watch them thresh grain as it was done prior to the 1920’s. (Can you imagine, grain threshing was once a ten person process that is done today with a farmer and a combine?) Don’t worry about hunger, there are plenty of refreshments to purchase on site. You’ll need sustenance as you wander through the antique car display, marvel at the working models, search for that special flea market item, attend woodworking demonstrations or the consignment auction, and maybe even watch a parade
Whew, with all there is to do, you wouldn’t want to run out of “steam.” (Pun intended J)