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BEST BET / TRACTORS ON DISPLAY : Farm Antiques Come to Life

June 14, 1990|JOSEPH DITLER

This weekend and next, hundreds of antique steam harvesters, threshers and tractors will be on exhibit at the 21st Threshing Bee and Antique Engine Show in Vista.

The show recalls the time in American history when steam-powered machinery--such as the threshing machines that noisily beat grain from husks--revolutionized farming.

One highlight of the show will be the firing up of a Hillside Harvester, a rare combine.

The event is at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, situated on 40 acres in northwest Vista. Antique machines numbering in the hundreds have been collected, restored and maintained by the museum and volunteers.

The era of steam-powered machinery stretched from 1800 to 1950. Much of the equipment comes from the pre-Depression era of the 1920s.

A steam-powered sawmill will be in use, and there will be tractor races, hay rides for the children, storytelling, antique autos, musical entertainment and cooking and farming demonstrations. There also will be square dancing and demonstrations by blacksmiths, woodworkers and farriers. Many of the volunteers and guests will dress in period costume.

People have come from California, Arizona and Oregon to participate in this unusual display of early Americana.

"We try to keep our crafts traditional," said Heather Johnson, director of museum programs.

"You can't believe the excitement and joy on the faces of the children when we fire up the old combines," she said. "This is my seventh year here, and I'm just as excited as my first day on the job. You can spend the whole day here and not be bored. And it's educational too . . . the kids just love it."

Among the attractions for children is a one-third scale train that carries them around the grounds. The museum is on part of Guajome Regional Park, and pheasants, coyotes, skunks, squirrels and ferrets run wild on the grounds.

The Threshing Bee and Antique Engine Show is designed to raise funds for the museum, which is open daily to the public.

What: Threshing Bee and Antique Engine Show

Where: 2040 N. Santa Fe Avenue, Vista. On county Route 14, between Bobier Drive and Osborne Street.

When: June 16-17, 23-24. The show runs 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. both weekends.

Cost: Admission is $3 per day for adults; free for children under 15.

Calls: 941-1791.

Notes: Overnight camping is available during the show for recreational vehicles, but reservations are required.

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