Smithsburg show gathers steam

September 27, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

SMITHSBURG - The news at the Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show this year is, well, there will be steam engines - plural.

Last year's show only featured one steam engine, an antique traction engine that was on display at the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Company fire hall grounds, said Mike Rohrer, who helps organize the engines for the show.

"People do come to see (the steam engines)," said organizer Dan Rishell. Spectators sit on benches at the sawmill and watch the engine-powered sawmill, he said.

The number of steam engines being displayed at the annual show had dwindled with fewer out-of-state participants because Maryland, like other states, has a law requiring steam engines to be inspected in the state in which they are displayed and operated, said Rohrer, a member of the Maryland Board of Boiler Rules.


Recent concern about inspections and safety assurances stems from a steam engine boiler explosion in Ohio in 2001 that resulted in four deaths and many more injuries, Rohrer said.

This weekend's steam engine and craft show at the fire hall grounds is expected to feature at least six steam engines, thanks to a pilot program that encourages out-of-state owners of steam engines to participate in the local show, Rohrer said.

Under the pilot program, the show is accepting engines inspected in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware.

The local steam engine and craft show has a good safety record and there's always a safety director present, he said.

Steam engines use high pressure to produce power. The heat from a fire goes through tubes in a boiler full of water. The heat boils the water, which creates steam pressure that pushes a piston one way and then the other. The piston turns a wheel, which gives the steam engine its power.

Steam engines were used to power farming equipment in the United States from the late 1870s into the 1930s, though some farmers continued to use them into the 1950s, Rohrer said.

The first steam engines were portable, pulled by horses and hooked up, via a belt, to power equipment such as threshers or sawmills. Steam-powered tractors also can be used to run such equipment.

Various steam engines will take turns Saturday and Sunday powering the sawmill at the show, Rohrer said.

The steam engines will parade with other farm equipment at 5 p.m. Saturday. The parade will loop through downtown Smithsburg, including stretches on Main and Water streets.

The 2 1/2-hour parade will include steam engines, about 250 gas tractors, local civic groups and the Smithsburg middle- and high-school bands, Rohrer said.

Other equipment on display at the show grounds will include 50 to 60 gas engines.

Approximately 120 arts, crafts and flea market vendors are expected.

Food for sale will include "Leopard Stew." While Rohrer promises there is no actual leopard in the popular stew, he refused to divulge its secret ingredients.

Other food for sale will be country ham sandwiches, pork barbecue, pork tenderloin, crab cakes, steamers, hot dogs, fresh-cut french fries, bean soup and apple pies, Rishell said.

The show is sponsored by the Smithsburg Athletic Booster Club, which uses proceeds to buy uniforms and equipment for Smithsburg High School's sports teams, Rishell said.

Last year's event attracted about 20,000 people a day and raised more than $25,000, he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show

WHEN:10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and Sunday, Sept. 30

WHERE Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Company fire hall grounds, behind the fire hall, which is at 22 N. Main St.

COST: Free admission, donation for parking

MORE: For more information, contact Dan Rishell by calling 301-824-1009.

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