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Godfrey, Illinois Country Days
By Cindy Ladage
Except for last fourth of July's Old Gold show in Springfield, Illinois, I don't remember when it was so hot. Nevertheless, the heat didn't keep vendors and visitors alike from enjoying the third annual Country Day's Event. Jane Elliott said the event was originally a one man show. "Barry Seiler, owner of Country Town Farm Supply store used to invite people up to the Johne Deere store. He would give hats and a free meal for everyone that brings a tractor."
Elliott said while this worked for several years, eventually the local tractor collectors decided to form a club. They keep things light and they usually meet at a local restaurant. To keep things a little different from other shows, they have themes. Usually the theme is an implement. This year's theme was plows.
The best thing about Godfrey County Days was the variety at the show. Although small, I saw everything from a 110-year-old plow to a Maytag toy racer. William Thiel of Carrolton, Illinois, said that they built the Maytag racer in June of 1935. The Maytag plant made the toy racer as a promotional item that sold for $100 in 1935. The little red race car could reach speeds of up to 8 ½ miles per hour. "Thiel said, ""The racer was powered by a Maytag Model 92 Engine."
Besides the race car, Theil had a variety of engines. He had an example of the Maytag's first attempt at a square tub run by a fruit jar engine. "Maytag made 400 of them."
Theil's trailer was not quite as full as usual because of the threat of rain. However, he still brought a neat cream separator and several other items. Seated next to Thiel was Sam Robert's from Dow, Illinois, the two of them had a variety of engines that brought visitors craning their necks to get closer look.
Among the toys, Earl McEvers ingenuity was clearly visible in his innovative toys and his little IH grader that he made from salvaged material. Built in 1980, McEvers said he built the miniature grader as a functional machine. "It has all the hydraulics and does everything the big ones do," he added.
McEvers who lives in White Hall, Illinois is a retried mechanic from Carnation in Jacksonville, Illinois. Besides his little grader, he has an array of fair rides from a Ferris wheel to an octopus. McEvers said, "I just do it for the fun."
Another man that makes innovative creations is Jim Weiman. While working at Premier Air, he and other staff built a 1/30th replica of the St. Louis Gateway arch. This 450 lb arch is made of 304 feet of stainless steel and can be put together in less than an hour. Weiman added that the arch also fits easily into the back of a pick up truck. This was the second year the arch served as the entry way into the Country Day's Fair.
On either side of the arch, two John Deere Lindeman crawlers acted as greeting pillars. One of the Lindeman's belong to the father and son team the Berkel's. Once inside the show, the tractor variety was endless. Variety included a 1953 Ford Jubilee, a 1953 Model 33 Mustang with an attached two row, three point hitch mounted planter, and a 1967 John Deere 3020 just to name a few.
Lawn mowers' were also included in Country Day's array of tractors as well as a nice collection of Indian motorcycles. Steve Lubak of St. Louis had a series of Wheel Horse Garden Tractors. And of course, there were plows. Several different types of plows were on display including Jim Weiman's restored 110 year old plow, and an 1879 Hapgood plow in original condition.
While all the tractors, toys and food (especially the lemon shake ups) were great, the highlight of the trip for me was talking with two 14-year-old boys who were kind enough to demonstrate just exactly how an old wooden shingle mill would work. Phillip Steidley from Herrick, Illinois had brought his 1936 John Deere H, and Cody Vinyerd from Greenfield, Illinois had brought his 1941 Farmall M. The boy's tractors were being used to turn the belt which powered the shingle mill 1870.
Fred Nolan from Jerseyville, Illinois ran the mill. Nolan explained that the antique shingle maker was built around 1870, and is a single feed mill that was probably used at a commercial saw mill. The boys, members of the Classic Iron Club of Greenfield, Illinois described how the mill worked by putting a block of wood inside the mill, "It can make perfect shingles and good kindling."
Eventually the heat boiled over and the rain that threatened to arrive all day long decided to open as a torrential rain. Although it put a bit of a "damper" on the show, the cool water felt like great. I heard several people mutter about the rain, but I didn't mind it a bit. It was a great way to cool down and end a day among old and new friends.