Arizona Flywheelers will be hosting its 22nd annual Engine Show the weekend of March 18-19 at the Verde Valley Fairgrounds in Cottonwoood.
The mission of the Arizona Flywheelers is to collect, restore and exhibit antique engines, tractors and related machinery, and they're putting on a grand show with an enormous variety of flywheels, rare hot air engines, vintage John Deere, Farmall and Allis Chalmers tractors and detailed models.
It's a celebration of America's mechanical ingenuity in the days prior to electric power - these are the machines that kept factories humming, helped the farmer irrigate, plow, sow and harvest his fields and freed housewives from much of their daily drudgery.
Almost everyone today is familiar with John Deere and International Harvester farm machinery, but in the heyday of family farms in the early years of the 20th century, hundreds of manufacturers and individuals -- indeed, anyone with access to a foundry and machine shop -- built engines to perform a multitude of chores. When electric power was brought to rural America through President Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in the 1930s, there was no longer a need for these work horses; their manufacture came to a halt and the once useful machines were left forgotten in barns or outdoors to rust away.
Nostalgia, combined with a fascination and admiration for the workings of these engines, leads avid flywheel enthusiasts to hunt them down, then spend months, and often years, carefully restoring them to working order. Others build working scale models, and some create their own version of the flywheel or hot air engine.
Proof of the popularity of this consuming hobby is in the numbers -- the Arizona Flywheelers, founded in 1983 with just eight members, now have a membership of 170 from all over the Southwest, and fellow enthusiasts gather from all over the country to attend an event such as this. Last year one man flew all the way from New York just to attend show, and a group of 40 came from as far away as England. Likewise, local members of the Flywheelers often pack up their engines to travel to similar shows around the country.
This weekend's event is an opportunity for the entire family to enjoy the fruits of this labor of love. Along with the hundreds of engines on display, there are sure to be some amazing contraptions ala Rube Goldberg. For those few who are not blown away by working engines, the show offers many more attractions.
The Sedona Railroaders will be there with an extensive display of running model trains, and the Model Arizona Club will exhibit model airplanes. Add to that some vintage cars, on-going entertainment featuring a bluegrass band, fiddlers and the Verde Valley Cloggers, a large swap meet, silent auction, book sale, tractor pull, garden tractor pull, a kiddies tractor pull and a tractor parade each day at 1 p.m.
A 2 HP Stover, restored and ready to go will be raffled off, and the ladies can take a chance on a beautiful quilt. Add to the above hotdogs, hamburgers and other refreshments, and you've got a great day's outing for the family.
Local folks are invited to come to the show and if you have an old hit and miss engine, Maytag Washer, garden tractor or older farm tractor you are encouraged to come and participate. Call Jim Mager at 282-7626 for details.
Gates open at 8 a.m. each day to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is just $3, children get in free, and there's plenty of free parking.
If you have an interest in flywheels, or are interested in learning more about these wonderful engines, The Arizona Flywheelers invite you to join them at their monthly breakfast meetings on the first Wednesday of the month at Denny's in Cottonwood, 7 a.m.
Visit their Web site at www.arizonaflywheelers.com.