AYR — Crews working overtime have stabilized the flooded Crystal Lake Recreation Area this week, clearing the way for the 36th annual Platte Valley Antique Machinery Association’s Antique & Collector Show scheduled for this weekend.
More than 100 antique tractors will be on display during the event, which attracts visitors from all over Nebraska and neighboring states to enjoy a glimpse at history and the machines that drove the farm communities of yesteryear.
The recreation area, which is managed by the village of Ayr and has been the PVAMA show venue for the last several years, nestles the Little Blue River north of Ayr.
“It (CLRA) was obviously flooded a couple times this year and was a mess, but we have it all up and ready to go,” said Pam Arterburn, event organizer. “There have been a lot of volunteer hours and time, and everything is up and going. We’re pretty well ready.”
Arterburn takes the lead reins of direction this year from Donna Wilton, who served multiple years in that role. A longtime supporter of the show, she remembers well attending the event years ago with her farmer father.
“I just like that everybody can come and see a piece of history,” she said. “That’s the main thing, (seeing) how it used to be.”
“Odd Balls and Orphans” is the theme for this year’s show, which will include a wide array of steam engine farming machinery on display, a garden equipment tractor pull, antique tractor pull, flag raising, church services, field demonstrations in blacksmithing, wheat threshing, stationary straw bailing and corn shelling, and live music by Matt Dwyer and other musicians.
The show grounds open at 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Admission is charged at the gate for those age 10 and up.
A tractor drive on Friday, departing from Crystal Lake at 1:30 p.m. and returning there later in the afternoon, will lead into the festivities.
The Saturday and Sunday schedules center on the antique tractor pulls that begin 11 a.m. each day (stock on Saturday, open on Sunday) and the parades of tractors and vehicles that begin both days at 3:30 p.m.
Additional attractions include a flea market and kids’ tractor pedal pull.
Food vendors will supplement the event’s kitchen, serving assorted treats and meals throughout the event, with homemade pie and ice cream among the offerings.
Hundreds of visitors of all ages are expected to join in the festivities, Arterburn said.
“I’m hoping we reach over 1,000,” she said. “That would be awesome!”
Participating volunteers include two area FFA chapters and the local Boy Scouts. Generous sponsors have provided several prizes for the super raffle, including an outdoor fountain, Husker artwork, drill bits, and other items. Hourly raffles will feature such items as hats, bag chairs, and other offerings.
The main attraction each year is the tractors, which hearken back to the days when farming was driven by steam engines and machinery of humble origins.
Farmers gather around the numerous tractors on display each year to share stories of their own experiences operating similar equipment, recalling stories of bumper crops and challenging circumstances that defined their finest memories in the field.
“This is the stuff our grandfathers and great-grandpas used,” Arterburn said. “It’s neat to see the total difference from then to now. It’s a piece of history that I’d hate to see us lose. I think it’s important for the kids to see it.”