Lanesville knows secret of fall festival spectacle
Give the people of Lanesville credit: They have discovered the secret of the successful small town festival: Have it on a crisp fall weekend in the hills of Southern Indiana, get hundreds of volunteers to have a stake in running it, have a long parade, and bring in as many gasoline-powered engines as you can, particularly vintage tractors and high-powered pulling trucks, and a few steam engines for good measure.
To see these powerful and often noisy antiques, people will come from far and wide.
Take Don Bodager, 69, for instance. He came from Crawfordsville. He was accompanied by his friend, Betty McDonald, of Odin, who was dressed up in a pioneer gown which is what she wears for antique shows, she said.
‘This is a short distance for me to go to a tractor show,’ Bodager said Saturday while admiring rows of old red, yellow, green and gray tractors of all makes and models.
‘I was in South Haven, Mich., yesterday,’ he said. That’s north of Traverse City. ‘What else is there to do in the summertime? I enjoy goin’ to these shows and meetin’ people. I ALWAYS see a tractor that I’ve never seen before.’ One he had just looked at was a 1921 Grey Tractor that had a huge steel drum back wheel instead of tires.
Perhaps the most unusual tractor among 320 on exhibit at the 29th annual Lanesville Heritage Weekend was a rusty old Leader that hadn’t seen much use. It sat around so long that a tree ‘ a good-sized tree trunk ‘ had grown up inside it, between the seat and the steering wheel.
A Leader is one of the lessser-known brands, said Bodager. Only a few of them were made in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron. The Leader with the tree in it is owned by Ed Drabek of Martinsburg.
Another enthusiast who knows a lot about tractors is Ronnie Lind, 57, of Lanesville. His owns about 100, and he brought 20 to the Heritage Weekend festival. He pointed out an old red electric-start Centaur KM model from 1938. It still had the plate on the side of the engine telling the name of the company that made it ‘ the Good Roads Machinery Co. of Albany and Buffalo, N.Y. The Onondaca County Highway Dept. bought it in 1938.
Why does someone who unloads coal barges at Cinergy’s Gallagher Plant in New Albany need 100 tractors? For one thing, it’s a profitable hobby, Lind said. ‘You get better money on your investment than you do at the bank.’
One of his investments is a red Massey-Harris GP, a forerunner of the Massey-Fergusons, It was built in 1930. It has big metal wheels and full-time four-wheel drive. ‘The GP (for general purpose) was about 30 years ahead of its time,’ Lind said. ‘Everything’s four-wheel-drive now.’
Lind and his brother, Darrell Lind, 53, of New Middletown, a chemical plant worker in Louisville, own six tractors together.
A guy who knows something about another kind of motorized vehicle, i.e., Harley-Davidsons, is Mitch Daniels, the Republican candidate for governor. His ‘campaign headquarters’ RV van pulled into Lanesville late Friday afternoon, and Daniels went first to Hogs Tavern to talk to the locals about their bikes. Daniels has a Harley at his home in Indianapolis.
Walking into the Walter Q. Gresham Park festival grounds to hustle some votes and talk to consituents about issues, Daniels asked for permission to get on Don Rose’s low-rider. Then Daniels met Clyde and Becky Mitchell of Leesville. Becky went to school with Becky Skillman’s mom, Catherine Fodrill of Leesville. In case you’ve forgotten, State Sen. Becky Skillman of Bedford is Daniels’ running mate.
One event that didn’t come off as desired was the Saturday night ballon race, wih 12 contestants. ‘Due to exceptionally low wind velocity, no balloon scored within the 200-foot radius landing zone,’ said race chairman James Acton.
One of the busiest persons at the festival was Dale (Chip) White, the general chair of the weekend festival. He said the crowd at the Saturday parade stretched as far as the eye could see and was probably the biggest yet.
Parade chairman Tom Walter reported 161 units in the parade that lasted one hour and 20 minutes.
White couldn’t say enough about the 350 volunteers who all come together to put on the massive three-day tribute to Lanesville’s agricultural heritage.
The crowds were so big that there were traffic jams outside Lanesville on Friday and Saturday evenings. Heritage festival publicist Joan Schickel said the cars were lined up on S.R. 62 east all the way to Polly’s Freeze in Edwardsville, a distance of several miles.
Carol Uesseler, widow of former Lanesville school superintendent and principal Carl Uesseler, was the parade grand marshal. She was accompanied by one of her daughters, Carrie, 20, a student at Western Kentucky University, and a grandchild, Caroline Bowman, 3, and her son, John, 33, who’s working on a doctorate in agriculture in Atlanta.
Uesseler said, ‘We feel honored and consider it a privilege to be a part of this community and observe how it pulls so many together. We will always have a special warm spot in our hearts for you. May God continue to bless this wonderful community.’
The parade featured floats, tractors, handsome old cars, many candidates for office, including Ninth District Congressional rivals Baron Hill, a Democrat, and Mike Sodrel, a Republican. Also in the parade were festival queen Rebekah Jordan, 17, daughter of Glenn and Diane Jordan, and princess Savanah Ford, 4, daughter of Dean and Misty Ford of Lanesville.