Nittany Antique Machinery Association
My Unofficial Website of the Nittany Antique Machinery Association
On 19 May 2004, the Nittany Antique Machinery Association brought their official web site online at www.nittanyantique.org.
The Nittany Antique Machinery Association began as a small affair in 1975 when a group of youngsters gathered a few pieces of antique farm machinery at the Penns Cave property. William "Bill" Campbell allowed these youngsters to use his property and somehow my father Donald F. Heggenstaller Sr. through his association and friendship with Dick Markle and other founders got involved; he agreed to set up some of his stadium speakers, act as master of ceremonies and play some old Victrola records out of his collection for entertainment.
I would be remiss if I did not identify the group of youngsters that were the founding members of the Nittany Antique Machinery Association. They were Russell Mark, Larry Harpster, Charles Campbell, Don Daum, Miles Decker, Paul Mark, Dick Markle and Walter Barger.
My particular recollection of the first show is clouded as I was but 18 years old then and was home for the weekend from my U.S. Army duty assignment in (Fort Eustis) Virginia. My memory was a cool Friday night before the show and helping strap the speakers up and running some drag cords (extension cords for all you that don't understand what a drag cord is).
The history book of the Nittany Antique Machinery Association says that the founders were simply astounded and overwhelmed by the number (12,000) of people that showed up for that very first weekend in 1975. Food ran out, toilet facilities were inadequate, and automobile traffic jams occurred in Brush Valley.
The original group of founders quickly grew and assimilated many new members and friends. Through the years this Antique Machinery Show or group, or association, or bunch of friends, or whatever term you may wish to apply to it, has grown into what has become the largest antique machinery show East of the Mississippi. (Well at least for a time. I will have to say that the land area of the Florida Flywheelers Club does seem to be larger. Regardless both shows are uniquely unique.) The owners of Penns Cave have allowed the Association to use the property and also to develop the property by construction of various buildings and improvements to serve the many visitors during the shows and that along with neighboring property owners allowing the association to lease land for expansion of the show grounds as well as camping and parking areas has been an integral part of the growth of “the show”.
Now it is not for me to say that bigger is better, that cannot be the true measure of an event. It is just my perception that if this show is truly the largest antique machinery show it is only because that as a group, all involved have put forth the effort to make this show “the best show” on either shore of the Mississippi. Many other local civic groups now plan a portion of their yearly fund raising activities around the dates of “the show;” that is just one example of what an event “the show” has become.
Although this show does not include antique aircraft, the airport at Penns Cave has been involved by allowing day visitors to “fly in” to the show in their private aircraft and fly back home the same day. Up until the mid 1990's during the fall show Penns Cave based aircraft had given “air tours” from above during the show. NOTE: In recent years insurance rates and fuel & maintenance costs have eliminated sight seeing flights.
The fall show includes a “feature manufacturer”. 2006 was the year of the Fordson, Fords and Ford-Ferguson. 2005 was the Northern neighbor Massey Harris and 2004 was a multi-faceted feature year of “Steam” tractors of any make along with “Empire” brand of tractors and other lesser knowns. Past years have seen Fordson. John Deere, Farmall, Case, International, Allis Chalmers among the manufacturers at the center of our attention. Personally I had been hoping to see “Steam” as the featured equipment for many years, and I am sure that Larry Harpster was equally excited about seeing the “Empires” in the limelight.
The growth of the Nittany Antique Machinery Association was heralded by the addition of the Spring Show as a public event in 1986.
The fall show originally a two day show (Saturday and Sunday) was changed to a three day show (in 1991?), and then changed to a four day (Thursday through Sunday) in 1994. In 2005 the Spring show changed from a two day shindig to three days. Moving the visitors from the parking and camping areas is a task of itself and part of the fleet of people movers is a double decker London Transport bus acquired from Penn State University in 1992 and restored during the course of the next couple of years. 1993 saw the bus make its first runs around the grounds, the winter of 1993 and 1994 saw repair of sheet metal and glass, following the Spring 1994 the bus received a new coat of red paint, lettering on the bus was accomplished following the Fall 1994 show and then the upholstery was replaced following the Spring 1995 show. Today the bus makes it's circuit around the grounds driven by volunteers who by their indomitable efforts make the show, the show that it is.
Some other interesting facts that help explain the show are that during the J.I Case Heritage Foundation show which was held during the fall of 1995, more than 395 tractors participated in the Saturday afternoon parade of equipment! 840 tractors of all makes were on the grounds during the Fall show of 1997 when the show featured Allis Chalmers, and then year 2000 found 1,357 different tractors on the grounds. The fall 1994 show saw steam traction engines pulling the weight transfer sled during the tractor pull and that has since become a highlight of Friday and Saturday night tractor pulls. In 1994 the association acquired a 90 ton Boomer & Bosher cider press from the Henry J. Wenner family of Bastress, since then the cider press has been mounted on a trailer and annually is used for production of our own made cider to complement the apple butter made in steam kettles.
Well that is my short winded version of the history of the show. I invite you to follow the links to the other Nittany Antique Machinery Association pages.
Well in past years I have tried sometimes to keep track of the number of tractors that have registered.