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
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
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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