Steam engine show pumps up fans

September 26, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

When it comes to being excited about a hobby, it's hard to beat Carl Murphy.

He's nuts about steam engines.

It doesn't make any difference what sort of contraption it is as long as it runs on steam.

Murphy is such a fan that he drives north each year from Virginia for the annual Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show.

"I'm retired, so I make a small vacation out of it," Murphy said.

His story doesn't surprise Dan Rishell, chairman of the event.

"I've been told we have people who plan trips to the area from as far away as Florida and Ohio, based on the date of the show," he said. "It's pretty popular."

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the show, which is a fundraiser for the Smithsburg High School Athletic Booster Club.


Organizers hope to raise between $18,000 and $24,000, which will be used to purchase equipment and uniforms for the school's sports teams.

The show continues today on the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. fire hall grounds.

Rishell said the event draws an estimated 30,000 people each year. They come for the crafts and flea market, as well as the famous Leopard Stew, which cooks all day in cast-iron pots over an open flame.

"The stew is a bit of a tradition," Rishell said.

Created by Norma Yellott, one of the show's founding members, the recipe has remained a secret over all these years.

"No one knows the recipe except for one person," Rishell said. "We just know that it's really good."

While the food is popular, the true stars of the event are the steam engines.

This year, Rishell said, there are six steam engines, plus a number of gasoline engines, antique tractors, an engine-powered sawmill and shingle mill. A wheat threshing demonstration also is on the schedule, weather permitting.

Rain, which began in the morning, didn't seem to deter visitors to the show, who filled their arms with chrysanthemums, apple cider and seasonal craft items.

"I'm a little wet," said Ava Goodling of Hagerstown. "But I don't mind. I can shop regardless of the weather."

If you go

What: Smithsburg Steam Engine & Craft Show

When: Today, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. fire hall grounds

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