By Wayne Gates
Steam was in the air once again in the air at the Ohio Valley Antique Machinery Show.
The 48th annual gathering was held August 9-12 in Georgetown.
“Case tractors were featured this year. We will have about 12 to 15 steam tractors, which is the most we’ve had in quite a few years,” said OVAM Club President Jeff Smith.
Over 500 different varieties of tractors and other antique equipment were also featured.
Also featured were a One room schoolhouse, general store, blacksmith shop, weaving, pottery making, grist mill, working sawmill, and a large flea market area.
Smith said that traditional food is also a big draw at the show.
“We have the pork producers here, for example, and they are the best in the country. Some people will come to the show and pay admission just to go back and buy a pork sandwich.”
Smith has been with the club for about twenty years. He said that a few things have changed since that time.
“We have a lot more room. Back when I started, we couldn’t plow with the steam engines. But if the weather permits, we have the steam engines go back and plow.”
He said watching antique equipment working is the experience of a lifetime.
“If you’ve never seen that, that is something to see. Those workhorses plowing the ground, with all of the sounds. It just goes right through you and it’s a great feeling,” he said.
Smith said that owning one of the antique machines is a big commitment.
“The older machines are really hard to maintain. There are a lot of moving parts that you have to keep oiled or greased. Every few years you have to completely break them down, clean everything and then put them back together,” he said.
“I was just talking to one of the steam guys and he said that he was getting ready to break one of his down and he expected that it would cost him $50,000 to get it put back together.”
And what are some of these machines that are over one hundred years old worth?
“You are probably looking at $300,000 or $400,000 that some of these machines are worth. Some of them are the only working ones around,” Smith said.
As with any other antique, the condition of the machines, their rarity and whether they actually run determines their value.
Smith said that many people treat the OVAM show as a reunion.
“It’s just a great fellowship of people coming together. There are a lot of people who see each other once a year, and that’s here,” he said.
“We draw people from all over the United States and beyond. We’ve had people from England and other foreign countries come here.”
Walking through the grounds also leads people to behave as if it were another time.
“If you look around the grounds you will see people putting their cell phones down and just talking face to face. It’s great,” Smith said.
International Harvester will be the featured brand at next year’s OVAM show, which will run from August 8-11, 2019.
Smith said that he and the other club members are also looking ahead to 2020.
“In two more years, we are going to have our fiftieth year. We’ve already started planning for that show because we are hoping to make it a big success.”