It is all about engines, internal combustion and serious iron and steel and it is returning to the Verde Valley Fairgrounds this weekend. It is also a milestone celebration: the 25th Anniversary show of the Arizona Flywheelers and the Southwest Regional Show of the Vintage Garden Tractor Club of America.
It may seem arcane at first blush, but there is a reason that enthusiasts regularly come from as far as New York and England to attend the annual Cottonwood show. "We have had people from 15 states last year," recalls Azalene Curry, the club treasurer. Her husband Sam has had as many as 15 engines and tractors. And kids love these engines.
Jim Magers is President of the club (he owns a classic John Deere). Jim says there will be engines all over the Fairgrounds, both inside and outside.
There are huge ones will be outside, some with a five-foot diameter ½-ton flywheel. The smaller work engines and family size flywheels will be inside the display barn. Most will be operating throughout the show.
Then there are tractors. Get in line for the tractor parade, the tractor pull for full-size units. Expect to see a fleet of John Deere, Allis-Chalmers and other classic tractors. There will also be a tractor pull for garden tractors and a kiddie tractor pull.
But, there are a number of other engines of locomotion.
The railroad club will bring its track, model railroad engines and cars. And the model airplane club will have planes in flight too.
Some of these old engines are the beasts of the post-industrial age, generating the power and the work before electricity was widespread in the U.S. From the 1850s until recently, these engines were used to pump water, grind grain and generate electricity. They often worked 24-hours a day and were extremely reliable as long as there was plenty of oil. The engines were typically very large and made of cast iron. It was a much different generation of engines than the motors that power the Toyota of today.
Jim says companies still build new flywheel engines for use in oil fields.
For the uninitiated, flywheels maintain an engine speed during the engine cycles that do not produce power. The flywheel absorbs power on the combustion stroke and provides power on the other three strokes of the piston cycle. Some are called hit-and-miss engines because of the sound they make.
Azalene Curry, who is now 81, says it was a "blessing when people had a machine to grind their grain and seeds."
Also look for the hot-air engines also on display.
Some of these engines have dust on them, but most have been painstakingly restored and repainted.
There will also be a flea market with plenty of engines and parts. There will be a number of vendors and a big book sale. A silent auction will be held from 9 a.m. Friday until 1 p.m. Saturday.
The winner of the raffle will take home a 1.5 hp International engine mounted on a "truck." tickets are $1 ea or 6 for $5 and 12 for $10.
The club is 150-members strong, mostly from the Verde Valley, but also members from throughout Arizona. Most members have an engine or tractor of some kind. Some do not.
And there will be plenty of old time entertainment, music to go with the music of old-time engines. Look for fiddlers, cloggers and even a kaliope player this year. Gospel music is on tap Sunday morning at 9 a.m..
The entry donation is only $3, but bring the kids; under 12, they are free.
Azalene Curry, Treasurer of the organization says, people tell her that Cottonwood is their favorite show.