Over three decades ago, three long-time friends decided they wanted to hold an antique engine and tractor show. They hauled their old hit-n-miss engines to a friend’s house for the weekend. To promote their event, the trio ran an ad in the local shopper paper and put out road signs. The results were about a dozen people showing up to look at the engines.
None of the guys had a clue that their event would evolve into one of the largest shows of its kind in the state, let alone become a 70-acre-plus museum whose mission would be to restore and preserve antique farm equipment.
This year, the Michigan Flywheelers Museum celebrates the 35th anniversary of its Antique Engine & Tractor Show. The event runs from Thursday, September 6th through Sunday, September 9th and features hundreds of tractors and engines, working displays, parades, music, and plenty of things to do for the entire family.
“Things really took off for us when we bought the property on 68th street in 1995,“ explained Patrick Ingalls, museum president. “For many years, we held our show at the Van Buren County Youth Fairgrounds in Hartford, but it wasn’t until we got our own property that we were really able to grow.”
Moving to their own property also meant that they could increase their educational goals, host additional events, and develop permanent exhibits. “Preserving our agricultural machinery history is very important to us,” said Ingalls. “And part of preserving that is educating people about it.”
Located in Geneva Township, the members of the museum have spent the last 35 years creating a unique experience for visitors as they take a step back into time and experience rural farm life during the 1920s.
To fund various projects and operating expenses, the museum hosts three events a year and is open for tours from Memorial Day through the end of August. By far, the largest fundraiser is its Antique Engine & Tractor Show, hosted each September.
Collectors from across the nation gather at the museum for the popular event. From flywheel tractors to the huge steam traction engines, visitors will be able to talk with collectors about their equipment, eat corn on the cob steamed in a steam engine, shop the flea market, watch tractor pulls, attend an auction, and look at the exhibits in Olde Town.
Saturday, September 8th is Kids Day, filled with kid-friendly activities like the John Dudley magic show, peddle pulls, sawdust pile treasure hunt, and lawn tractor games.
This year’s entertainment lineup in the Stephenson Barn includes Silver Songs on Thursday, Jared Knox on Friday and Brandt Carmichael Band on Saturday. Also in the entertainment lineup are Ken and Judy Moore’s Jam Sessions, Hymn Sing, Casco Community Band, and folk singer Joe Foster.
Admission is $7 per adult. Children 12 and under free with paid admission. Thursday is Seniors Day and admission is $3 for 62 and older. Camping is available. Pets are allowed only with exhibitors, campers, and flea market vendors. Personal transportation vehicles (like golf carts) are allowed. Registration is $15. For more information, visit www.michiganflywheelers.org, Facebook or 269-639-2010.