Harvest Fair a fun but noisy place!
Last updated 11/8/2007 at Noon
There was a lot of smoke and pops and bangs coming from the hundreds of tractors and engines on display at Vista’s Harvest Fair, held at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum on the weekend of October 20 and 21. Most of the fair’s engines, tractors and exhibits were not just static but active and working machines.
A parade with more than two hundred entries moved past the grandstands to the delight of the viewers. (The parade was staged every day of the fair.) Many of the tractors were built in 1920 and earlier.
One working tractor looked and sounded like a train. Built in 1902, it was run by steam and even had a train whistle. A 1918 tractor moved along on eight-foot-high wheels. A tractor called a Power Horse was maneuvered with reins like you would a horse. Pull back the reins and the tractor would stop.
An easy and fun way to see the extensive grounds is to take the hay-less hayrides. Jump aboard a tractor-towed trailer and smell the fresh air as the driver takes you on a journey around the compound. You bump along past a blacksmith’s shop, where you can watch a real blacksmith at work. The ride also takes visitors past a place where old tractors are lined up in rows just waiting to be fixed. Patty Rook, along for the hayride, said that it looked like “tractor heaven.”
The fair offers areas where various handicrafts are available, including an early 1900s kitchen with a wood-burning stove. Volunteers in period costumes spend the day baking cookies in the stoves, which sometimes refuse to cooperate. The 1900-style cookies tasted good, but some were a little dark around the edges.
Sorghum, which is a bit like molasses, is grown onsite. It is then harvested, pressed and put up like preserves. Jars of sorghum could be purchased for only $3 each. It is used like molasses and added to the batter of cakes as well as used with other baked goods. Guests who came early to the fair were able to witness the 9 a.m. sorghum pressing demonstration.
Food is not hard to find at the fair. Mexican food, sub sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs are readily available. I enjoyed the tri-trip sandwich, which was served with homemade potato salad. The tri-tip was lean and delicious and served on a soft roll.
The antique washing machines make a fascinating exhibit. Volunteers kept some of the old machines chugging along during the fair. A machine called an “Easy Vacuum,” built in 1912, had silver cups which plopped down and agitated the water, hopefully washing the clothes.
Author’s note: Due to the fire evacuation this story was not published prior to the October 27-28 fair; however, many of the tractors and engines mentioned can still be seen at the museum. For further information please call (800) 587-2286 or access the Web site http://www.agsem.com.
Steam Engine Museum
2040 N. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista