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Contributed Article

Show Coverage:
Argyle and Mt. Pleasant Labor Day Weekend Shows
by Cindy Ladage

The last fling before summer fades into fall and we get busy in the fields are the annual Labor Day tractor shows. Beginning on September 5th and running through the 7th, the Argyle Antique Gas and Engine Show is held at the Argyle State Park. Located in West Central Illinois, the pine forest was the setting for the opening of the 22nd show.

This year we decided to try to sell a few tractor parts, literature and wrenches to offset my husband's buying sprees. Saturday morning we arrived late by most vendor's standards and set up around 10:00 a.m. Unlike last year when the show was wet and rainy, the sun shone and there was not a cloud in the sky. Although it was hot, beneath the shady pines, we were comfortable. Located right across from the antique tractors. We had a great view of a wide variety on exhibit. A late model Fordson was one of the most unique I saw.

This year's featured tractor was Oliver. In the Oliver tent, a wide variety of styles and models offered the visitor the opportunity to see some of Oliver's best. The gentleman assisting in the tent was able to bestow some sought after advice on the proper color of paint Keith needed to use on an Oliver plow he has among his collection.

Besides tractors and tractor parts, a big section of the show is dedicated to a huge flea market. The flea market consists of crafts, antiques, and even demonstrations of things like broom-making.

One of the items that makes the Argyle show special is the inclusion of antique trucks. This year, an unusual display caught our attention put on the Corn Grower's Association. Dave Reiso brought his horse drawn corn planter and you could learn all about corn planting by stopping and taking a few minutes to browse.

As usual, we sampled a bit of all of the foodstuffs offered. Between us we had a kettle Korn, onion rings, lemonade shakeups, burgers, hotdogs and a lot of coke to wash it all down!

Although this is only our third or fourth year at the show, the Argyle event started in 1974. A group gathered at the Colchester bank for a tractor show, the next year, the show was held at the Argyle State Park. By 1976, the group had formed a club, and the show has expanded ever since.

Andy Schoof, one of the members of the Argyle support group, said 1997 was the first year there was a featured tractor. Last year, the featured tractor was International. One of the most interesting things among the International exhibits last year was International appliances included with the tractors and engines.

The show had steady traffic, and while we sold enough items to make us happy, when we pulled up stakes, that night, we decided to head for Mt. Pleasant, Iowa the next day to check out the Old Thresherman's Show. This show has become an annual event for us. Afraid of what we might miss, we decided to throw commerce aside for more tractors to see.

We spent Saturday night in a wonderful bed and breakfast we had stumbled on. The Pineapple Inn offered a beautiful old home filled with antiques, and wonderful hospitality. The hostess even provided chess pie at 9:00, so we stuffed ourselves one more time before drifting off to a tractor filled sleep.

Morning brought ham, potato quiche, homemade cinnamon rolls, and fresh fruit. When we checked out, we left with extra cinnamon rolls and the name of another couple we met who were also tractor fans.

Sunday the sun was bright overhead and scorching everything it touched. The balmy pines of the Argyle forest were left behind and replaced by the dry open grounds of Mt. Pleasant. Parking was like attending the Illinois State Fair. Prices were also like the fair. Finally with the car parked across the way for $3.50 and admission $7.00 per adult we were in the gate.

Although pricey compared to the free Argyle show, we were soon immersed with things to see and to do. The crafts and old time village, and a great display of antique cars and trucks kept us occupied for quite some time. Then Allie pulled me away to ride the train to cool down.

We toured some of the great displays such as Women in Agriculture, but my greatest thrill came when Keith informed me that my all time favorite tractor of all time a Minneapolis Moline UDLX Comfort Tractor was in the showing grounds. We trekked across the heat soaked earth to the tractors watching with admiration the great steam engines billow out their black smoke as the engineers stoked the engines.

My UDLX had been moved. It had been in part of the parade that makes a daily trek past the grandstand. The UDLX however was en route back to its place of honor next to a rare Minneapolis Moline YT. The owner drove up his truck/tractor/comfort mobile in complete ignorance of the huge fan staring at every angle of the most beautiful machine man has ever made.

In the toy section Roy Lee Baker was demonstrating his miniature 1937 John Deere B which runs. Baker, who has been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame was working selling toys and some of his parts he creates with his wife Audrey. Roy Lee took us over to view another new innovation by a man who has taken an Ertl engine and made it run!

The heat finally took its toll and we succumbed to the refuge of a food tent. After eating a pork chop dinner, we made one last trip to the old village so that we could see the dance hall show then we headed out of town.

Monday we stumbled onto the Old Tyme Tractor show in Stronghurst, Illinois. Although one of the exhibitors told my husband that they were way down on vendors, this small show had an amazing array of old trucks such as White, a Model T and more.

A saw mill was set up cutting up firewood. An old International ran the mill. There were also Caterpillar tractors' and many more varieties making the small show a great stop. Vendors showed their wares, and one woman explained how to make lye soap to me. Although fascinating, I think I'm lazy because it sounded to labor intensive for the likes of me.

Parking was free, rides were free, and the show was great. The highlight though was when Allie won the balloon toss contest and walked away with a hula hoop.

The rest of the ride home across Western Illinois into the flat plains of home resulted in frequent stops at flea markets, antique shops and food places. Full, content, broke and with a car full of goodies' we finally arrived home in time to get back to the real world and dream of the next tractor-fest.

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