With new attractions accompanying hundreds of antique tractors and machines, the 45th annual Rice County Steam and Gas Engines show promises an enjoyable few days of family-friendly entertainment.
The show runs through Sunday at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines showgrounds on Hwy. 3 just south of Dundas. This year’s show features many of the same antique attractions that have long made the show a family-friendly favorite. In 1998, Steam & Gas Engines was able to acquire the sizable farm it sits on today, giving it ample room to add buildings and expand the show.
The show’s expansion included adding Friday as an extra show day. Steam & Gas Engines Show President Roger Janek said that by adding Friday, Steam & Gas Engines was able to ensure that the show will take place for at least two solid days even if Saturday or Sunday or are rained out. Thankfully, inclement weather doesn't seem to be in the cards this year.
This year’s big new attraction is the brand new “Rice County Northern Railroad.” The gas-powered miniature train can be ridden by the public with a Steam and Gas Engines volunteer in the “engineer’s seat.” Collectively, the train’s cars weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
The train cars run on a rail of more than 1,000 feet that was painstakingly laid by the Rice County Steam and Gas Engines volunteer team. Running against the clock, the volunteer team managed to get all 1,000 feet of track laid this summer, just in time for the show.
The cornerstone of the event is the hundreds of antique tractors that will be on display. The Steam & Gas Engines show showcases a different tractor brand each year over an eight year cycle. This year, International Harvester is the featured tractor brand. Janak said that this year’s show includes a relatively large number of tractors because of International Harvester's broad popularity.
The tractors are showcased each day at noon in the tractor parade, with a color guard leading the procession. The tractor pull will be held at 9 a.m. Sunday, with the kids tractor pedal pull at 2 p.m. Saturday. In keeping with the theme, International Harvester parts are on display.
The show lives up to its motto of “Preserving a bit of yesterday for tomorrow” by showcasing far more than just antique tractors but a variety of other antique machinery. A corn sheller, sawmill and blacksmithing demonstrations are among the show’s most popular. In addition, car buffs are sure to enjoy the classic cars and trucks on display.
Household antique items like an antique stove, sewing machine, small organ and much more will be on display in the Drentlaw House. Built in 1888 and expanded in 1914, the Drentlaw House has sat on the Steam and Gas Engines showgrounds since it was donated by the family 2007.
Each day, live music will be provided by local bands in the main shed. A flea market will be held with vendors selling an assortment of antique goods, from tractors and machine parts to literature and furniture.
Horse-drawn carriage rides will be available for those who want to tour the showgrounds in style. As for more modern attractions, food trucks are on site and a bounce house provides extra entertainment for kids.
With an agreeable weather forecast, new attractions and a particularly popular tractor brand on feature, Janek says he’s optimistic that this year’s Steam and Gas Engines show will be one to remember.