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Savinna Sheffer, better known as Sis around the Pioneer Gas and Steam Engine show grounds, talks with and waves to friends in front of one of the featured tractors for this weekend’s event.

About 15 years ago Savinna Sheffer of Cochranton went to a “tractor show” with her husband, Donald, not knowing that the experience would prompt them to dedicate countless hours to a labor of love.

They became active members of the Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania where Savinna serves as membership secretary of the society, which is observing its 40th anniversary this year.

Savinna’s duties have included many things. “One year I ran the ice cream stand,” she said, noting it was a “all-day job,” but she enjoyed dipping the ice cream and making root beer floats.

She will be at the grounds this weekend, registering members, setting up quilt displays and old-fashioned dress displays as well as helping with other preparations.

The society, which has its show grounds off Route 198 at Saegertown, holds four main events each year. This weekend is “our big show,” reads a pamphlet about the activities, which begin Friday.

This year’s feature attraction will be Allis-Chalmers Tractors and Fairbanks-Morse engines.

Although Sheffer’s first description of the event from 15 years ago was a trip to “tractor show,” with her husband, the event is much more than that.

It’s an educational event with a flea market, demonstrations, displays, food, entertainment and more. Asked why she and more than 1,000 society members and work hard all year long to organize the events, she said, “It’s so our people don’t forget how our country started. Farmers started with horses and then got tractors. The kids need to know how people used to run their farms,” she said.

The society was started in 1966 when a group of men met at the home of the late Parley Carpenter of Guys Mills, according to Ellis M. Wellman’s article in the society’s newsletter.

“Parley had no engine show experience, but was a great visionary,” said Wellman, who lives in Chardon, Ohio.

Wellman was a mechanical engineer working in Cleveland. He had a collection of engines and tractors and “was intrigued with the possibility of displaying them locally.”

After a number of planning meetings, the first event was held at the Wellman place near Taylor Stand Road near Centerville.

“My meadow became filled with cars, trucks and a few camper outfits,” wrote Wellman, noting it was “the first organized public display of antique power machinery in Crawford County.”

“Parking narrowed the gravel Taylor Stand Road so that it was a trick for through traffic to make its way. Eventually, a state police car showed up to survey this strange activity. I think he (the trooper) shook his head and drove off,” recalls Wellman in his article.

From there, the shows went to the Crawford County Fairgrounds and then in 1988 the society purchased 100 acres of land near Saegertown and held its first show at its own grounds that year, according to David Goodwill of Columbus, who travels 40 miles to participate each year. He became interested in tractors as a youngster when he went to shows with his grandfather. He displays eight tractors and four engines. “It’s what I enjoy,” he said.

But not everybody who goes to the event owns tractors or displays them. Some are just visitors. “Lots of people come every year to look,” said Goodwill, who has been society president three times.

“One fellow has come for 40 years,” he added.

This year’s event includes a wide range of activities, including camping facilities for those wishing to spend the weekend. Campers must pay a fee.

The event opens Friday with breakfast at 9 a.m. and a parade at 12:30 p.m. It continues through Sunday.

Admission is $4 for adults each day with children under 12 admitted free. Senior citizens are admitted for $2 on Friday.

Once this weekend’s event is over, society members will begin planning for a “Fall Gas Up” Sept. 15 at Drake Well Park in Titusville and a “Harvest Festival” Oct. 13 and 14 at show grounds.

And, plans already are in the works for the 2008 show, which will feature a steel wheeled and hand crank tractors and White engines.



You can go

The Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania show opens Friday with breakfast at 9 a.m. and a parade at 12:30 p.m. It continues through Sunday with a flea market, demonstrations, displays, food, entertainment and more.

Admission is $4 for adults each day with children under 12 admitted free. Senior citizens are admitted for $2 on Friday.

The show grounds are off Route 198 near Saegertown.

–– More information: Call David Goodwill at (814) 663-1291 or visit the Pioneer Web site at www.little-mountain.com/pioneer.



Schedule of events

A schedule of events at The Pioneer Steam and Gas Engine Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania 40th annual show at the showgrounds, a half-mile west of Interstate 79 exit 154 off Route 198 in Crawford County is as follows. The show opens Friday and closes Sunday.

–– Breakfast will be offered daily, starting at 9 a.m., served by Veterans of Vietnam Wars Post 52. That group will be also serve food throughout each day, as will other non-profit vendors.

–– Featured equipment will be Allis Chalmers tractors and equipment, and Fairbank-Morse engines. Other tractors and equipment are welcome for display.

–– Live country music by The Grassfire Band, The Pioneer Barn Band and the Peterman Family Singers.

–– Chain saw sculptures, spinning-weaving displays, scale models of various equipment, steam kettle cooking demonstrations, antique tractors, oil well engines, miniature horses, llamas, donkeys, a shingle mill in operation, hit-and-miss engines, a blacksmith shop, steam engines, tractor games, historic construction equipment in operation, antique cars, pre-1972 trucks, a saw mill in operation, a huge flea market and much more.

–– Parades , each day, 12:30 p.m.

–– A “kiddie tractor pull,” Saturday at 11 a.m.

–– Antique tractor pulls, Saturday and Sunday.

–– Church service, Sunday at 9 a.m. with special music by Dan Schall.

–– Exhibitors and pioneer society members presenting proof of membership at the gate will be admitted free.

–– Camping is available at various rates, and handicapped-accessible parking and transportation will be provided.

–– Flea market information is available by contacting Peggy Buterbaugh at (814) 763-2379.

–– Other information, contact David Goodwill at (814) 663-1291 or visit the Pioneer Web site at www.little-mountain.com/pioneer.

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