Steam engines steal show at Smithsburg festival

September 29, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

SMITHSBURG - The hiss of steam, the buzz of the saw, the sizzle of a hot iron on wood.

These sounds have become something of a tradition in Smithsburg, which is hosting its 33rd annual Steam Engine & Craft Show this weekend.

"It's really turned into something special," said Mike Rohrer, who helps organize the show every year.

Hundreds of visitors attended the event Saturday, which featured six steam engines - a first for the show, which only had one steam engine last year.

The engines took turns powering the sawmill, which cut logs up to 32 inches in diameter down to a pile of 1-inch-thick boards.


The event began as a small fundraiser for the Smithsburg Athletic Booster Club.

"We got tired of nickel and diming the community to death, so we decided to do this," Rohrer said.

He said the group raised "a couple of hundred dollars" in its first year.

Now, the show has grown into a cash cow, raising between $25,000 and $30,000 every year, said Dan Rishell, chairman of the event.

He said in addition to the steam engines, the show features more than 130 vendors selling crafts of every kind.

Leather goods, wood carvings, wreaths made of corn and holiday decorations were some of the items on sale.

Aleesa Banzhoff of Clear Spring displayed a range of intricately carved jack-o-lanterns for sale at her stand.

Banzhoff said she carves a lot of pumpkins with NFL team logos "because they sell," though her favorites are the carvings of dogs and cats.

Judy Dahlhamer and her husband, Bob, of Hagerstown, sat under an umbrella Saturday selling balloon yo-yo's for $1 each.

"We do all the local shows," Judy said as she snapped the yo-yo back and forth.

But while the vendors did a good day's business on top of the hill behind the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co., the stars of the show were the steam engines down below.

They powered the sawmill and a hay bailer, and a few just rode around the grounds.

Dozens of spectators lined the hill to watch the machines at work.

"We come every year," James Thornton of Williamsport said. "It's neat to see such old technology."

Spectators could buy wooden shingles freshly stamped by a hot iron press for $1. They could get up close to the engines and ask the operators how they worked.

"It's a tradition for a lot of these guys," Rohrer said. "Their families have done this for years, and it's a privilege for them to get out here and show people what things used to be like."

The Herald-Mail Articles